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Dependence within families and the division of labor: Comparing Sweden and the United States


Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden (


This article assesses the relative explanatory value of the resource-bargaining perspective and the doing-gender approach for the division of housework in the United States and Sweden from the mid-1970s to 2000. The data used are the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Swedish Level of Living Survey. Overall results show that housework was truly gendered work in both countries during the entire period. Even so, the results indicate that, unlike Swedish women, U.S. women seem to increase their time spent in housework when their husbands are to some extent economically dependent on them, as if to neutralize the presumed gender deviance on the part of their spouses.