European Journal of Population

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 99–128

Gender Roles, Comparative Advantages and the Life Course: The Division of Domestic Labor in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples



Lesbian and gay couples by definition cannot establish sex-specific divisions of domestic tasks, at least not literally. Previous research has shown that high levels of equality characterize domestic work arrangements in same-sex couples. This study scrutinizes explanations for this. The theoretical background stems from family economics, from the theory of relative resources and from gender role and life-course considerations. The empirical analysis is based upon the Generations and Gender Survey from Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Australia. Results show that same-sex partners engage in more tasks equally, that their housework-sharing pattern is less segregated and that the partners’ workload is more equally balanced. Comparative advantages, life-course differences and gender roles contribute to the explanation of higher levels of equality in same-sex compared to different-sex relationships.


Division of housework Same-sex couples Family economics Gender roles 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Munich (LMU)MunichGermany

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