It’s getting late today, please do the laundry: The influence of long-distance commuting on the division of domestic labor

  • Anna Stenpaß
  • Stefanie Kley
Keywords: household labor, division of labor, gender ideology, long-distance commuting, job-related spatial mobility, bargaining theory, doing gender approach

Abstract

The study examines the effect of long-distance commuting on the division of domestic labor in heterosexual couples. A long journey to work can affect other areas of life. Commuters often have lower life satisfaction and their intimate relationships may be impaired by mental stress. When looking at domestic labor the question arises of who is in charge of managing the household and childcare. Do women still adopt the “lion’s share of housework” or take over the “second shift” if they spend part of the day on long commutes to work and back home? A long commute is defined as a journey to work of at least 45 minutes, daily or several times a week. We present the results of pooled regression analysis and fixed effects regressions conducted on data from the German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam) for the years 2013, 2015, and 2016. The pooled analysis suggests a moderate association between a woman’s long commute and her partner’s engagement in housework and childcare, especially when she commutes daily. Instead of living ‘reversed roles’, the partners share such tasks. However, when the association between a woman’s long commute and her partner’s engagement in childcare is estimated exclusively with fixed regression, it remains significant. If the man is a long-distance commuter, most often his partner is solely responsible for all household tasks. Relative labor market position and income distribution within the couples, as well as adherence to gender roles explain the effects of long-distance commuting on labor division.

Published
2020-02-24
Section
Articles