Journal Article

The great convergence: Gender and unpaid work in Europe and the United States

Over the past decades, men's and women's time use in industrialized nations has changed dramatically, suggesting a gender revolution. Women increased their time in paid work and reduced time in unpaid activities, while men increased their time in unpaid work, but not enough to compensate for women's retreat. We investigate developments regarding men's and women's unpaid work across Europe and the United States, using time diary data from the mid‐1980s and onward. We find evidence for gender convergence in unpaid work over time, but different trends for housework and childcare. Gender convergence in housework primarily resulted from women reducing their time, whereas childcare time increased for both sexes, resulting in convergence only where men increased more than did women. Decomposition analyses show that trends in housework and childcare are explained by changes in behavior rather than compositional changes in population characteristics. Though level differences in unpaid work persist, our findings regarding trends support gender convergence in that they are general across country contexts that vary regarding policy and social norms about gender, family, and work.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.