Outsourcing the Gender Factory: Living Arrangements and Service Expenditures on Female and Male Tasks

Esther de Ruijter, Judith K. Treas, Philip N. Cohen

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Using data from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey 1998, this study analyzes how much money different types of households spend for domestic services on “female” and “male” tasks.We test alternative hypotheses based on economic and sociological theories of gender differentiation. Contrary to arguments that marriage lowers the risk to one partner of specializing in housework, we find no differences in service expenditures between cohabiting and married couples. Consistent with gender production arguments that the household context shapes behavior, single women outspend couples across the board. Single men, however, reveal spending behavior more consistent with gender socialization. Comparing single men and single women points to the gendered nature of the tasks as an important aspect of domestic service expenditures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Forces, Volume 84, Number 1, September 2005
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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