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Session B3
Changes in Perceptions of Housework Division: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective
戴翠莪 Tsui-O Tai
Department of Sociology, National Taipei University, Taiwan
台灣國立臺北大學社會學系
謝宛君 Wan-Chun Hsieh
Department of Sociology, National Taipei University, Taiwan
台灣國立臺北大學社會學系

A paradoxical pattern in domestic labor has long been observed in family studies. Despite women undertaking the majority of domestic work, women usually perceive their division of housework as fair. This fairness paradox suggests that beliefs about the appropriate allocation of housework are even more resistant to social changes than the actual division of household labor and that an investigation of the change in perceptions of housework division over time contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to the change in gender relations in a more gender-essentialist area. Using decomposition method and data from the 2002 and 2012 ISSP Family and Changing Gender Roles Modules, this research examines the mechanisms that account for the change in women’s perceived unfairness of housework division across 15 industralized countries from 2002 to 2012. We address three questions: 1) Did women’s perceptions of housework division present similar changes in the 15 countries? 2) Did the correlation between perceptions of housework division and individual-level factors change over time? 3) To what extent did the changes in demographic composition account for changes in perceptions of household labor? We have three major findings. First, women’s perceived housework unfairness increased in 11 of the 15 countries and the increase was the most substantial in Taiwan and Japan, suggesting a cultural convergence between the East Asian and Western societies. Second, the association between individual-level factors and perceptions of housework change substantially across countries. The alleviating effect of men’s share of housework on women’s perceived unfairness decreased from 2002 to 2012. Third, although changes in demographic composition contribute relatively modestly to the change in perceptions, extended working hours, higher educational attainment, and more personal income lead to women’s elevated perceived unfairness.