A new study (Couples’ housework participation, housework satisfaction and fertility intentions among married couples in Hong Kong by Adam Ka-Lok Cheung) has uncovered complex connections between gender roles, satisfaction with housework, and the intention to have more children among married couples. The research analyzed how differences in housework participation between genders influenced satisfaction with domestic arrangements and the desire to have more children.
What they look for: The study is about the impact of housework participation on satisfaction with domestic roles. A negative association was found between women’s housework participation and their satisfaction level, meaning women were less content with their domestic arrangements when they carried out a more significant portion of household tasks. On the other hand, when men contributed more to housework, their female partners reported higher satisfaction with their domestic roles.
The study also explored how gender role attitudes influenced satisfaction levels. Men with more traditional gender role attitudes were happier when women took on more housework responsibilities. However, the positive link between men’s participation in housework and women’s satisfaction was stronger among those with liberal gender role attitudes.
What they found: Data from married couples showed a significant gender gap in housework participation, with women spending approximately three times more weekly on household chores than men. Interestingly, men perceived a smaller gender gap, estimating that women spent only twice as many hours on housework as they did.
The research examined the link between housework satisfaction and fertility intentions, revealing a positive correlation among women. Specifically, those satisfied with their domestic roles were more likely to plan for another child within the next five years, and this intention was powerful among women who had not yet reached their desired number of children. Therefore, satisfaction with housework was crucial in shaping fertility intentions, particularly for those who had not yet achieved their ideal family size.
What they say: The study’s findings have crucial implications for understanding the relationships between gender roles, housework satisfaction, and fertility intentions. The research suggests that encouraging gender equality in domestic responsibilities can positively influence women’s satisfaction levels, subsequently impacting their desire to have more children. Public policies that promote men’s participation in housework and support couples in balancing work and family responsibilities could contribute to more equal relationships and potentially increase fertility rates.
Limitations of the Study: However, the study also acknowledged limitations, including using cross-sectional data, which hampers the ability to establish causal relationships. Longitudinal data and diary-based time-use records would offer additional insights into the intricate interactions between gender, housework, and fertility.
Why it matters: The study offers valuable insights into the effects of gender disparities in housework participation on individual satisfaction and fertility intentions. Understanding these relationships can help policymakers and researchers promote more balanced and equitable household dynamics that align with couples’ fertility goals.
Our Thoughts: These findings are consistent with previous research that suggests that women are more likely to have another child when they receive help with housework participation, like the recent research from Spain that grandparental support helps women achieve fertility intentions, particularly for highly educated women who struggle to balance work and family.