Big paycheck means less housework for married women

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The more money a married woman earns, the less housework she will do regardless of how much her spouse earns, according to a new study.

A researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that big paychecks equal less cooking and cleaning in a study of 918 women in double-income families.

Married women who made $40,000 or more a year spent nearly one hour less on housework per day than women who earned $10,000 or less, according to the findings based on data from the National Survey of Families and Households.

“Up to this point, people have thought that the important thing was how much money a woman makes compared to her husband. But the only thing that matters is how much money she earns,” Sanjiv Gupta, the study’s author, said in an interview.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, showed that for every $7,500 in annual income a married woman earned, she performed one hour less of housework each week.

Gupta confirmed the link between money, domestic work and spousal relationships in a separate, unpublished study using data on nearly 2,000 couples in the United States and Europe.

The average earnings of American women increased by $6,200 between 1965 and 1995, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During that time, the amount of time married women spent on weekly chores fell by 14.6 hours.

Since the husband’s earnings had no effect on the amount of housework a woman does, the finding suggest women are using their own money to reduce their domestic workloads such as ordering take-out food instead of cooking and hiring cleaners instead of doing it themselves, Gupta said.

“The negative side of it is that it shows just how divided households remain by gender. It emphasized how much housework is the woman’s responsibility.”