All About Equity? Division of Unpaid Labor, Teamwork, and Couples’ Relationship Satisfaction

Daniel Carlson , University of Utah
Amanda J. Miller, University of Indianapolis
Stephanie Rudd, University of Indianapolis

The gendered division of unpaid domestic labor is an important predictor of couples' relationship satisfaction but the mechanisms linking them remain poorly understood. To date, egalitarian arrangements are thought to be associated with greater satisfaction largely because partners find them to be fair. Nonetheless, other factors associated with egalitarianism, such as teamwork, may also explain this association. Using data on N = 974 partners in 487 couples from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS), the authors examine the causal association of teamwork with the division of labor and relationship qualilty. Results from instrumental variable models indicate that the division of labor affects women’s feelings of teamwork, but men’s feelings of teamwork are causally prior to the division of labor. Feelings of teamwork completely mediate the associations between the division of housework and childcare and women’ relationship satisfaction, while it confounds them for men, resulting in entirely spurious associations.

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 Presented in Session 159. Family-Level Perspectives on Work and Care