Does Family Structure Influence Adolescents' Gendered Domestic Work? Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Pablo Gracia, Trinity College Dublin
Lidia Panico, Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques
Anne Solaz, INED

Gender inequalities in unpaid work start in childhood and persist strongly throughout the life course (Anxo et al. 2011). Already among teenagers we observe clear gender differences in the performance of household tasks, with girls being significantly more active than boys in these activities (Wight et al., 2009, Solaz & Wolff, 2015). By analysing how boys and girls engage in domestic work, scholars can offer valuable insights into the role of families in shaping gender inequalities over the life course.

In this paper, we study how family structure influences adolescent involvement in gender-typed housework activities using a longitudinal approach. While an extensive literature analysed the impact of divorce on individuals’ psychological, socioeconomic or demographic transitions (Amato, 2000; Harkonen et al., 2017; McLanahan & Sandefour, 1994), little is known on how family structure affects adolescents’ gendered time use allocation (Mencarini et al., 2004; Wight et al., 2009). Drawing on ‘parental model theories’ (Cunninham, 2001), we expect gender inequalities in adolescents’ domestic work to be less pronounced in single-parent families than in two-parent families, as adolescents might more easily reproduce gender stereotypical roles in presence of both maternal and paternal roles at home.

Analyses are based on the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) (2000-2014), combined with the time-use module in Wave 6, about to be released. The MCS allows us to ideally investigate the role of family structure trajectories in adolescents’ housework behaviour. We will run logistic regression models predicting teenagers’ domestic work participation and linear regression models on the time spent on these activities, differentiating between “female” and “male-oriented” domestic tasks. Preliminary analyses suggest that differences by family structure on both household work and gender roles and attitudes play a minor role. Parental income and education seem to explain more of the variations in gender attitudes than family structure.

Presented in Session 48: Time Use in Families