Contextual Effects on the Gendered Division of Housework: A Cross-Country and Cross-Time Analysis

Hadas Mandel, Amit Lazarus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals who espouse an egalitarian gender ideology as well as economically independent women benefit from a more egalitarian division of housework. Although these two individual-level characteristics affect the gender division of housework, each suggests a different mechanism; the former is anchored within an economic logic and the latter within a cultural one. Using data of 25 countries from the 2002 and 2012 “Family and Changing Gender Roles” modules of the International Social Survey Program, we examine whether a country’s mean gender ideology and women’s labor force participation (WLFP) rate have a distinct contextual effect beyond these individual-level effects. We predict that the division of housework between married or cohabitating partners will be more egalitarian in countries with higher WLFP rates and in countries with more egalitarian attitudes, even after controlling for the two variables at the individual level. Given the cross-country convergence in WLFP, but not in gender ideology, we expect the effect of WLFP to decline over time and the effect of gender ideology to remain salient. Indeed, our multi-level analysis indicates that the net effect of WLFP, which was evident in 2002, had disappeared by 2012. By contrast, the net contextual effect of gender ideology, which was not significant in 2002, had become an important determinant of housework division by 2012. We conclude that further changes will depend on a country’s prevalent gender ideology because the equalizing effect of WLFP on the division of housework may have reached its limit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-220
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Contextual effects
  • Division of household labor
  • Division of housework
  • Gender ideology context
  • Unpaid labor
  • Women’s labor force participation rate


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