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Who Helps with the Homework? Inequity in Parenting Responsibilities and Relationship Quality among Employed Parents

Mon, August 14, 4:30 to 6:10pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 512E


This study examines the relationship between parenting responsibilities and two forms of relationship quality: spousal disputes and feelings of closeness. In analyses of parents in dual-earning households, we ask whether the division of key parenting activities is related to relationship quality, net of the division of housework, and whether those patterns differ for women and men. Additionally, we document the relevance of the degree of perceived fairness of the division of parenting and housework responsibilities. Using data from the 2011 Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Survey (n=1,564), we show, consistent with much other research, that dual-earner women perform a greater proportion of both parenting tasks and housework than men. The relationship between performing the majority of parenting tasks with frequent spousal disputes and reduced feelings of closeness is stronger among women—but that is partly due to perceived unfairness in the division of parental responsibilities. Our results provide a novel analysis of the distinctive influences of parental duties—net of housework—and underscore the continued gendered variations in both responsibilities.

Key Words: parenting responsibilities, household labor, marital quality, spousal conflict, spousal closeness, marital satisfaction, perceived unfairness, Canada