The Gendered Division of Household Labor over Parenthood Transitions: A Longitudinal Study in South Korea
Recent research from the gender revolution perspective suggests that men’s increasing involvement in the family domain accounts for the positive association between fertility and female labor force participation in developed Western countries. However, little relevant evidence exists on their Asian counterparts, where lowest-low fertility, low levels of women’s employment, and traditional family values prevail. Using the 2007, 2008, and 2010 waves of the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families (N = 10,263 couple-waves), we examine how parenthood transitions affect wives’ and husbands’ provisions of household labor and how their employment status moderates this relationship. Focusing on comparisons between first and additional children, we estimate couple fixed-effects regressions. The dependent variables are the time that each spouse spends on household labor and the husband’s share of the couple’s total time spent on this labor. The key independent variables are the number of children and the number interacted with each spouse’s employment status. The results show that household labor was gendered even prior to the birth of the first child. Inequality in household labor increased significantly further with first children, but not with additional children. This increase persisted regardless of women’s employment status, thereby implying that first children might exacerbate the double burden on employed women. Policy lessons are drawn regarding how to raise fertility and female labor force participation in Korea and other countries where women have difficulty reconciling work and family life.
KeywordsHousehold labor Parenthood transition Employment Gender inequality Double burden Korea
This work was supported by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
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