The effect of structural embeddedness on the division of household labor: A game-theoretic model using a network approach

Yoosik Youm, Edward O. Laumann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Various economic and sociological approaches have attempted to solve the puzzle of persistent gender inequality in the division of housework, but with mixed results. We propose a game-theoretic model in which the structural embeddedness of the partners is the key contingency predicting family members' behavior. Under the condition of strong embeddedness, partners behave as if they share a unitary utility function because they can safely assume their partners' gain will be their own gain. Under the condition of weak embeddedness, however, partners can no longer assume a flow of future fair rewards and thus they are in a bargaining situation. They try to decrease their share of housework by using their resources (options outside marriage/cohabitation) as threats in their bargaining with their partners. A representative sample of Chicago from the Chicago Health and Social Life Survey is analyzed as illustrative evidence for the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-280
Number of pages38
JournalRationality and Society
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003 May 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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