Domestic divisions of work and couple dissolution in the UK
Irish Journal of Sociology
cohabitation, domestic work, gender, equity, division of housework
This paper analyses the effect of the domestic division of work on the risk of dissolution of married and cohabiting couples in the UK. The division of work is usually categorised in terms of equality or traditionalism, depending on whether housework is done mostly by women or not. Equity has received less attention in the literature. We propose an exploratory measure to include both equity and equality/traditionalism in our operationalisation of divisions of work, estimating the total number of hours that each partner spends doing any type of work (paid and unpaid). We hypothesise that the risk of dissolution will increase for cohabitors if they depart from an equitable and egalitarian model, whereas marriages will be protected by more traditional arrangements. We use an event-history approach to analyse data from 16 waves of the British Household Panel, from 1992 to 2008. Our results support the hypotheses only partially and suggest that for cohabitors both equality and equity are important for stability.