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Earnings and Expenditures on Household Services in Married and Cohabiting Unions


Department of Sociology, Social Science Plaza B 3151, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697 (


Despite the rise in women’s paid employment, little is known about how women and their partners allocate money to outsource domestic tasks, especially in unmarried unions. Tobit analyses of 6,170 married and cohabiting couples in the 1998 Consumer Expenditure Survey test hypotheses that recognize gender inequality between partners, gender typing of household tasks, and differences between cohabitation and marriage. Women’s earned income is more important than men’s for spending on female tasks. Men’s earnings are not more important for male tasks, but the earnings of married men are more strongly linked to expenditures on female tasks than are the earnings of cohabiting men. The research indicates that working women leverage their earnings to reduce their domestic burden through outsourcing.