From Parental Home to the First Partner: Does Having Lived Solo Have an Impact upon the Current Division of Housework?

Ariane Pailhé, INED
Anne Solaz, INED

Living independently before partnership has become a more common step in life course trajectories. This study analyzes whether this period of independence influences later life, and especially the spouses’ division of household labor. During this period of independence, youth people learn to live on their own; young women and men have to perform household tasks. Living independently may also act upon attitudes regarding appropriate wife and husbands behaviors. We expect that living independently before partnership reduces gender differences in housework once in a relationship. We use the first wave of the French Gender and Generation survey with a sample made of 1,297 men and 1,748 women aged 20-50 in their first partnership. The spouses’ division of household labor is measured by a synthetic indicator of female over-implication based on eight common domestic tasks. We estimate OLS and 2SLS regressions to take into account a possible selection effect according to which people with more traditional attitudes are less likely to live independently and more likely to enter directly into marriage (or cohabitation) after leaving parental home. Results show that the gender division of domestic tasks is lower when men have lived independently. It is not a selection effect.

Presented in Session 90: Gender Roles and Attitudes over the Life Course