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Housework: Socialization Influences on Individual Performance, Couple Division of Labor and Mental Health

Jaala Robinson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite the continued gender inequality in the division of housework, little research has considered how family housework socialization influences the amount of housework a person performs and their mental health. Socialization processes occur via the amount of housework performed in the home during childhood by each parent and the parents’ gender division of household labor. This analysis details three studies that explore the impact of socialization to housework. All three studies take advantage of intergenerational data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The first study uses a social learning framework to test whether the amount of housework a person does is related to the amount of housework their same-sex parent did. The second study tests whether housework modeling behaviors from the same-sex parent may moderate the traditional proximal factors, such as employment and wages, that influence the amount of housework completed and the gendered division of labor between couples. The third study uses a self-discrepancy framework to consider how the intergenerational influence from the same-sex parent’s housework impacts the relationship between housework and mental health. My findings confirm that a person’s housework performance is positively related to that of their same-sex parent. Additionally, this relationship is not moderated by proximal factors, contrary to expectations. Finally, the hypotheses related to the self-discrepancy framework are partially confirmed in that adult women who do less housework than their mothers are more likely to receive a diagnosis of a mental illness.

Subject Area

Sociology|Mental health|Home economics

Recommended Citation

Robinson, Jaala, "Housework: Socialization Influences on Individual Performance, Couple Division of Labor and Mental Health" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28712896.