Husbands, Wives, and Housework: Graduates of Stanford and Tokyo Universities

By Myra H. StroberAgnes Miling Kaneko Chan
Feminist Economics
1998 Vol. 4 Issue 3 Pages 97-127.

Barbara Bergmann argues that economic gender equity requires equity not only in paid employment, but also in household work. We examine the household task arrangements of a sample of married 1981 graduates of Stanford and Tokyo (Todai) Universities, about a decade after their graduation. No less than 43 percent of Stanford graduates shared household tasks about equally with their spouse, a much higher sharing rate than for the whole U.S. population. However, only 12 percent of Todai women and 8 percent of Todai men had egalitarian household task arrangements, a sharing rate about equal to that of the whole Japanese population. Holding other variables constant, Stanford men who did at least half of household tasks paid an earnings penalty of about 10 percent. Women who did more than half of household tasks did not pay an earnings penalty. Our examination of task arrangements among dual-career couples provides support for bargaining power theories of the division of household tasks, but suggests that societal ideology plays a critical role in defining the scope for bargaining.