Household Governance and Time Allocation
Four studies on the combination of work and care
In all modern societies couples face an increasing need to arrange the combination of work and care in a new way. Current research provides evidence that a considerable number of couples are not able to achieve the work-life balance desired.
Several studies report an increase in hours of paid work and a high overall work load in the household, persistent gender differences in the division of paid and unpaid work, and a high level of perceived time pressure.
This book approaches these issues by a new theoretical concept: The concept of “household governance”. It provides a systematic way of studying how couples cope with cooperation and coordination problems by using outsourcing strategies, informal household rules, quality standards, and conflict-handling strategies.
It also helps us to establish in what respect couples are successful or unsuccessful in their coping efforts. Previous research has repeatedly shown that problems in the combination of work and care emerge due to institutional barriers, high employer demands or financial restrictions.
This study suggests that these problems also emerge due to transaction problems. Analyses based on the Time Competition Survey - a multi-stage sample of 565 Dutch couples in 30 work organizations - show how couples are creative in developing and inventing tailor-made solutions for household governance. Yet, a considerable number of them are not able to achieve a desired combination of work and care.
The new concept of “household governance” helps us to explain why, and it makes it possible to identify the layers of household governance where suboptimal outcomes occur.
Philip Wotschack studied Sociology at the Free University Berlin. The present study was conducted at the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) in Groningen.