Study looks to explain shifts in how men and women allocate their time

A new study seeks to explain the change in how men and women use their time over the last 50 years.

Working at home

 

A combination of a narrowing of the gender wage gap and improvements in women’s bargaining position in the household has led to a dramatic shift in the way men and women use their time over the past half century, according to new research.

A paper by Alexandros Theloudis, presented at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Manchester this week, notes that married women in the US have doubled their paid work; doubled the time they spend with their children; and halved the time they spend on household chores over the last 50 years. Married men have reduced their paid work; tripled their time with children; and increased their chores. It says other developed countries have experienced similar trends.

Based on a model of time allocation for work, chores, childcare, and leisure, Theloudis shows men and women choose their time use given their wages, the age of their children, technology at home and their respective bargaining power in the household. That power relates to a person’s financial and family prospects if they divorce from their partner.

Improvements in women’s bargaining position

Using data from multiple cohorts of American men and women, Theloudis finds that at least two factors are linked to changes in time use – the narrowing of the gender wage gap and improvements in women’s bargaining position in the household.

Theloudis, from UCL’s Department of Economics, says that if men and women had similar work experience and wages, women’s rates of market work would tend to mimic men’s and that the same applies to childcare – that is, if men increased their involvement and chores, women would further reduce theirs and increase their participation in the labour market.

Gender pay gap

Another paper being presented at Association looks at the gender pay gap in UK economics departments. It finds that there continues to be a substantial pay gap between men and women.

The study by Karen Mumford from the University of York and Cristina Sechel from the University of Sheffield reveals that job rank is an important determinant of the gender pay gap. It finds roughly half of the gender pay gap is related to within-rank pay differences and the other half due to differences in the probability for women of promotion into higher ranks. Men are 11% more likely than women to be a professor and 7.2% less likely to be a lecturer and male professors earn 11.5% more than female professors.

According to the study, the rewards associated with individual productivity and promotion are typically twice as high for male professors as for female ones. While men who have received an outside offer in the previous five years are 50% more likely to be a professor than are women who have.

The researchers say the study suggests implementing pay and promotion reviews, however, without recognising the unconscious bias and institutional cultures that have led to the current outcomes will be of limited use. They say: “These results imply that universities need to reconsider the implementation of their equal pay policies in economics departments, especially in the old universities.”



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