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Fuwa, Makiko & Cohen, Philip N. (2007). Housework and Social Policy. Social Science Research, 36(2), 512-530.


We analyze the effects of social policy regarding women’s employment and work-family conflict on the division of household labor in 33 countries. We classify policies according toChang’s (2000) equality of access (affirmative action and absence of discriminatory policy) and substantive benefits (parental leave and childcare services). Results show that countries without prohibitions against certain types of employment for women, and those with longer parental leave policies, exhibit a more egalitarian gender division of housework. Further, women’s fulltime employment and higher income have stronger effects on the gender division of housework in countries with greater equality of access policies. However, longer parental leave policy is associated with weaker effects of women’s full-time employment. The findings suggest that social policies affect not only the overall gender division of housework, but also the dynamics of micro-level negotiations. Such policies may contribute to the context in which gender roles in the labor market and in the family are defined.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science Research


Fuwa, Makiko
Cohen, Philip N.