Julie E. Press, Eleanor Townsley
Apr 1, 1998
Gender & Society
This investigation places recent research about changes in wives' and husbands' domestic labor in the context of well-known reporting differences between different kinds of housework surveys. An analysis of the “reporting gap” between direct-question reports of housework hours from the National Survey of Families and Households (1988) and time-diary reports from Americans' Use of Time, 1985, shows that both husbands and wives overreport their housework contributions. Furthermore, gender attitudes, total housework, class, education, income, family size, and employment status together significantly affect the overreport, although the variables operate in different ways for wives and husbands. It is concluded that changing and uneven social perceptions of the appropriate domestic roles of women and men have resulted in reporting biases that do not necessarily correspond to actual changes in housework behavior. These findings cast doubt on claims that contemporary husbands are doing more housework than their predecessors.