Husbands’ and wives’ time spent on housework: A comparison of measures


  • Yun-Suk Lee,

  • Linda J. Waite

  • *Alfred P. Sloan Center on Parents, Children, and Work, University of Chicago, 1155 E 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 (

Department of Urban Sociology, University of Seoul, 90 Jeonnong-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea 130-743.


This study compares a series of estimates of the time spent on housework from survey responses and time-use estimates from the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) obtained from husbands and wives in the Sloan 500 Family Study. These include estimates from husband's and wife's answers to questions about own time and spouse's time on household tasks, and time-use estimates from the ESM. The three ESM estimates include primary activity only, primary plus secondary activity, and primary and secondary activity plus time spent thinking about household tasks. We find that estimates of hours spent on housework differ substantially and significantly across various measures, as does the absolute size of the gap between hours spent by husbands and wives. Share of housework done by husbands differs somewhat less.