When Is Housework Not a Chore? Exploring Variation in Happiness During Housework Activities

Cadhla McDonnell , Pennsylvania State University
Nancy Luke, Pennsylvania State University

The assumption that housework is a uniformly disliked activity underpins the academic literature on domestic labor. This assumption ignores the possibilities that (1) some housework activities, such as cooking or gardening, may actually be enjoyable, and (2) there may be systematic variation among individuals in how they experience doing housework. We test the assumption that housework is uniformly disliked by examining men’s and women’s reports of happiness during housework. We test how happiness varies depending on the activity undertaken and by gender and other socio-demographic characteristics. Preliminary results indicate that there is substantial variation in happiness across activities and by gender. Respondents report most happiness during yard work and cooking and least happiness during laundry. Women report significantly more happiness than men in most housework activities. The findings of this study will facilitate a better understanding of how housework is allocated in families and why housework remains persistently gendered.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions