How money matters: College, motherhood, earnings, and wives' housework

Margaret L. Usdansky, Wendy M. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Using new data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), the authors consider how educational and parental status influence the relationship between wives' relative earnings and the time they devote to housework in a climate of heightened gender egalitarianism and growing similarity between women's and men's time use. The authors capitalize on the large samples in the American Time Use Survey to study four groups of wives whose varying educational and parental statuses strengthen tests of theoretical claims regarding bargaining, gender display, and wives' autonomy. Among wives with children at home and without a college degree, the authors find that relative earnings bear a curvilinear relationship to housework time, supporting predictions derived from exchange and gender display theories. Among wives with children and a college degree, and among wives without children regardless of degree status, relative earnings are unrelated to housework. In contrast, wives' own earnings are inversely related to housework time across all four groups. The authors' analyses suggest that educational and parental contexts jointly shape the relationship between wives' earnings and their housework and the relative importance of bargaining, gender display, and autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1473
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • family process
  • housework/division of labor
  • time use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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