Gender, Productivity, and the Marital Wage Premium


Department of Sociology, Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750192, Dallas, TX 75275-0192 (


Explanations for married men’s wage premium often emphasize greater market productivity due to a gendered division of household labor, though this “specialization thesis” has been insufficiently interrogated. Using data from Wave 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (N = 972), this paper examines the relationship between wages and time spent in paid labor and housework for married women and men with high levels of labor force attachment and their spouses. Scrutiny of couples’ time use finds strong evidence for the gendered division of labor, but little support for the anticipated wage effects of the specialization thesis itself. Less strict sample restrictions point to the need for continued research directed at couples’ joint employment and household labor decisions.