What Happens When Work and Family Spheres Are Reintegrated? Quantitative Analysis of Unpaid Housework Among Women Home-Based Workers in Canada

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Lisa KAIDA, McMaster University, Canada
Kathleen FITZPATRICK, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Since the 1970s, developed countries like Canada have witnessed a rise in women’s home-based work as a result of economic restructuring and firms' flexibilization strategies. Although home-based work is touted by the media and businesses as an ideal arrangement for women to balance work and family, sociologists are critical of this upward trend as a re-integration of the sphere of work and the sphere of family. Qualitative research has explored the gendered consequences of home-based work and highlighted work/family challenges facing women home-based workers. However, a quantitative assessment on the work/family challenges of women home-based workers is limited to date. To address this gap, this paper quantitatively evaluates how the unpaid housework hours of women home-based workers compare with those of on-site workers and their male partner. We perform OLS regression and generalized decomposition analyses using data from the 2006 Census, the last Canadian census that asked about one’s unpaid housework. We find women home-based workers spend seven hours per week more on housework than their counterparts who work onsite and are doing a greater share of housework in the couple than their onsite counterparts, suggesting home-based work reinforces the gender division of household labor. Male home-based workers are also doing a greater share of unpaid housework in the couple than their on-site counterparts, which slightly helps reduce the gender division of household labor in the couple. Moreover, although 20-30% of the gaps in housework hours between women home-based and women onsite workers can be explained by the differences in their work-related and other observable characteristics, the gap persists, suggesting unmeasured characteristics such as traditional gender role attitude may play a role. Finally, we discuss the importance of re-instating the questions of unpaid housework activities in long-form Canadian Censuses.