Get access

The Division of Household Labor: Longitudinal Changes and Within-Couple Variation


  • This article was edited by Cheryl Buehler.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, 211 Henderson Building South, University Park, PA 16802 (


This study examined how the division of household labor changed as a function of marital duration and whether within-couple variation in spouses' relative power and availability were linked to within-couple variation in the division of labor. On 4 occasions over 7 years, 188 stably married couples reported on their housework activities using daily diaries. Multilevel models revealed that wives' portions of household responsibilities declined over time and that changes in spouses' relative income and work hours were linked to changes in housework allocation. Wives with husbands who perceived greater marital control, on average, did proportionally more housework, and for couples with husbands who had highly autonomous jobs, changes in spouses' relative psychological job involvement were linked to changes in housework allocation. The findings highlight the importance of understanding household division of labor as a life span phenomenon, the distinction between within- versus between-couple associations, and the multidimensional nature of power and availability.