March 10, 2015

Reducing gender bias at home will reduce the gender gap at work

Reducing gender bias at home will reduce the gender gap at work


Routine household tasks can take up to half as much time as the time spent in paid employment. Studies show that if women bear the brunt of household work:

  • they earn lower wages
  • they are disincentivized to work by taxes on household income
  • the gender gap is prolonged

Household production, including housework and shopping, is a crucial part of the economy. But, it is surprising just how much time is spend on it – about half as much time as one usually spends in paid employment. Women generally bear the brunt of this workload, a trend that is driven in part by the gender wage gap. Income and sales taxes on household income can further dissuade women to work, meaning that their incentives to work are distorted and they spend more time in the home.

However, evidence compiled by Leslie S. Stratton shows that the gender divide in the home is not economically efficient. She advocates initiatives which boost both girls’ and boys’ participation in household work, which have been shown to mitigate gendered “social norms” and gradually balance the division of home tasks.

Stratton concludes that basing tax rates on individual rather than household earnings would be an effective way to encourage women to work and balance the gender division in the labor market. She also suggests that policymakers should focus on changing gendered norms of behavior to reduce the gender wage gap.

The determinants of housework time, by Leslie S. Stratton, was published on 10th March 2015.

IZA World of Labor is a free, online resource created by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in collaboration with Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Articles focus on global labor economics issues, drawing on empirical, evidence-based research in order to offer pertinent comment and evaluation, and best-practice policy advice.

Leslie S. Stratton is Professor of Economics at Virginia Commonwealth University and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Human Resources, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and Research in Higher Education. She joined the IZA as a Research Fellow in 2004.