Husband's Gender Ideology

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In response to why women remain investing significantly more time in unpaid housework than men (see Shelton and John, 1996; Coltrane, 2000 for a thorough review) and specialised in types of housework, empirical work done by researchers in economics background focuses on relative resource approach that builds on Becker’s model of exchange. Nevertheless, the economic approach is far from satisfactory in explaining why married women who are financially independent perform more housework than their spouses. This brings the argument of gender ideology from the perspective of sociologists.

The allocation of time among family members in the work that needs to be done, both in the market and in the household, has important implications for the household’s consumption possibilities. Extending the benefits of labour specialisation that documented in the standard economics textbook, Becker (1985, 1991) suggests that multiperson household often find it beneficial to specialise to some extent in the activities that they undertake, based on comparative advantage. A salient example of such intrahousehold specialisation is married men specialised in market work and married women in household production. This historically division of labour within households is arranged on the basis that women accumulate less human capital. Given women’s relatively lower opportunity cost in work outside the home as compared to men, household members would arrange spouses’ labour in a manner that women should allocate more time to household labour and less to market work in order to yield a maximum utility for the family.

However, women nowadays have acquired as much human capital as men be it in education, labour market experience, occupational attainme...

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...economic dependence in housework performed between husband and wife, Greenstein (2000) also found a ‘U’ shaped pattern for women, in which breadwinner wives undertake a greater share of housework than their husbands and a reversed ‘U’ shaped for economically dependent husbands. However, Greenstein emphasise the process of deviance neutralisation instead of gender display in the division of housework. The author suggests that to neutralise a nonnormative provider role of women in the family, both husband and wife may restore to a traditional attitude to make up for gender deviance even if the relative resource approach suggests that the husband should share far more housework.

With these theories and fact of the past as the backgorund, we turn our attention to the married couples in Kuching city to account for the asymmetrical distribution of household labour.
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