When Does Gender Trump Money? Bargaining and Time in Household Work

Michael Bittman, Paula England, Nancy Folbre, Liana Sayer, George Matheson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using data from Australia and the United States, the authors explore the effect of spouses' contribution to family income on how house-work is divided. Consistent with exchange-bargaining theory, women decrease their housework as their earnings increase, up to the point where both spouses contribute equally to income. In other respects, gender trumps money. The base level of housework for women is much higher. Among the small percentage of couples who are in the range where women provide 51%-100% of household income, the change in housework is opposite what exchange theory predicts: couples that deviate from the normative income standard (men make more money than women) seem to compensate with a more traditional division of household work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-214+i-ii
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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