- The division of labor and depressive symptoms at the couple level: effects of equity or specialization?
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
- Volume | Issue number
- 29 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This paper studies the effect of the division of labor within households on husbands’ and wives’ depressive symptoms. Economic theory argues that specialization enhances mental health and wellbeing, whereas other, more psychological theories argue that equity matters most. We analyze data on husbands and wives from two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. By combining information on the time spent on household and paid labor, we are able to construct separate and partly independent measures of equity and specialization. We find clear evidence for the equity hypothesis. When hours spent on paid and household labor are more equally distributed between husband and wife, both report fewer depressive symptoms. Only weak and inconsistent support was found for a positive effect of specialization.
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