The Influence of Women’s Commuting on the Distribution of Household Labor

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Anna STENPASS, University of Hamburg, Germany
Stefanie KLEY, University of Hamburg, Germany
Modern societies are characterized by mobility and flexibility (e.g. internal/external migration or commuting). Today, commuting seems to be a part of someone’s everyday life. Whereas in past times, men were more affected by commuting than women, the number of commuting women increased. It is undeniable, that a long way to work has an influence on the life. Commuters have a minor satisfaction of life and their intimate relationships and are impaired by mental stress. Reasons are higher levels of stress and fewer leisure time.

Having a look on the domestic labor the question arises, who is in charge of managing the household. Do women still adopt the “lion’s share of housework” or take over the “second shift”, if they spent part of the day commuting to work and back home?

The study examines the effect of commuting on the distribution of domestic labor in heterosexual relationships. On the basis of the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics Study Germany (pairfam; http://www.pairfam.de/) panel analyses were conducted. Different types of domestic labor were considered: Time-consuming tasks like doing the household, groceries and childcare and irregular tasks like repairs and administrative tasks.

Panel analyses are used to empirically test for evidence of various determinants. Analyses show, that higher commuting time decreases her investment in household labor, like doing the laundry, cleaning up, or preparing meals. Interestingly a higher commuting time of hers does not increase his investment in household tasks. Instead, the partners do share those tasks. On the other hand a higher commuting time of his comes along with a higher part of household tasks of hers, rather than an equal distribution. Additional analyses suggest that the partner who is more likely to take care for children is also in charge for the household labor.