Economic Dependence and Gender Division of Household Labour in the Republic of Korea

An, Mi-Young

  • Received : 2011.06.28
  • Accepted : 2011.10.08
  • Published : 2011.12.30


This paper examines the relationship between economic dependence and gender differences in housework in Korea. There are three explanatory alternatives for the relationship; economic rule of exchange, gender display perspective and deviant neutralization. We analysed both 2004 and 2009 time use survey data. The findings show the significant gender differences in time spent on housework that wives spend much more time on housework than husbands. However, among couples with non-normative gender roles, in some cases the more economically powerful wives spend more time on housework than breadwinner wives with weaker economic power, although such cases are rare. Rather, it is appropriate to conclude that, the more economically independent the wives, the less time they spend on housework; this is also the case for husbands. Overall, the Korean case shows what the economic exchange theory predicts. Thus, improvements in working wives' economic power will lead to gender equity in the division of housework.


division of household labor;economic dependence;gender;Korea;Time Use Survey


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Supported by : National Research Foundation of Korea