Sharing or not sharing? Household division of labor by marital status in France, 1985–2009

By Lamia Kandil, Hélène Périvier

This paper examines why the division of domestic labor among couples differs according to marital status. We analyze how the gender division of labor in France has changed, drawing upon time-use surveys (1985, 1998, and 2009). In 1985 and 1998, married women performed a larger share of domestic labor than cohabiting women. Differences in the observed characteristics of married and cohabiting couples explain this gap in 1985, whereas by the late 1990s cohabiting couples opted to organize themselves less unequally than married couples, all else being equal. In 2009, women’s average share of domestic labor was about the same, whether they were cohabiting or married (72% and 73.5%), but it was significantly lower (65.1%) for women in civil unions. This result can be explained by the self-selection process of couples based on their gender values, as civil partnerships attract more egalitarian couples.

  • domestic labor
  • marital status
  • gender
  • time-use survey
  • matching method
  • France
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