Household Production in an Egalitarian Society
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOnozaka, Y., Hafsi, K. (2018) Household Production in an Egalitarian Society. Social Forces, soy066 https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soy066
Norwegian national policies strongly incentivize double-earner households and gender equality, but various gender gaps persist both at work and at home. In these seemingly contradictory situations, what are the mechanisms under which Norwegian households allocate their market and domestic labor? Drawing on both a large set of administrative data and a representative survey, this question is examined from two perspectives. First, we focus on the micro-economic processes and investigate if Norwegian households act according to economic rationality or if they still follow the gender norm “A man should earn more than his wife.” Second, we focus on how Norway’s contextual factors may influence the household experiences when a wife has better market productivity. We find that a wife with better market productivity, who is thereby facing the risk of outearning her husband, works more hours and earns more than her husband, while doing less chores—behavior consistent with economic rationality. Further analyses show that women’s “higher” relative market productivity is mainly a consequence of having low-income husbands, and “higher” and “lower” market productivity women are surprisingly similar in other sociodemographic aspects. Norwegian redistribution policies, through progressive taxation and benefit transfers, seem to mitigate the income differences and promote gender neutrality in a sense that if couples wish to pursue an untraditional division, by preference or by necessity, they seem to be able to do so without being held back by the traditional gender expectations or being very poor.