Sharing housework can be healthy: cultural and psychological factors influencing men’s involvement in household maintenance
More details
Hide details
Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Submission date: 2016-06-21
Final revision date: 2016-08-30
Acceptance date: 2016-08-30
Online publication date: 2016-09-12
Publication date: 2016-09-12
Health Psychology Report 2016;4(3):189–201
Following gender prescriptions can affect individuals’ quality of life. Research has shown that the unequal distribution of household labor is correlated with low psychological well-being and family conflict. Therefore, negotiations concerning household and family duties within relationships appear to be an important health-related issue. Additionally, research has shown that couples who have more gender-egalitarian arrangements within their households have better health outcomes if the wider society is more gender egalitarian.
In this literature review, we aim to shed light on the relationship of the equal division of housework between women and men with their health and well-being. We also present selected results from the series of studies conducted during our PAR Migration Navigator project, which explores the practices of gender equality within households and their relationship to individual well-being among Polish couples living in Poland, Polish migrant couples living in Norway, and Norwegian couples living in Norway.
Allen, S. M., & Hawkins, A. J. (1999). Maternal gatekeeping: Mothers’ beliefs and behaviors that inhibit greater father involvement in family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 199–212.
Amanatullah, E. T., & Morris, M. W. (2010). Negotiating gender roles: gender differences in assertive negotiating are mediated by women’s fear of backlash and attenuated when negotiating on behalf of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 256–267.
Astone, N. M., & Peters, H. E. (2014). Longitudinal influences on men’s lives: research from the transition to fatherhood project and beyond. Fathering, 12, 161–173.
Bartlett, E. (2004). The effects of fatherhood on the health of men: a review of the literature. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender, 1, 159–169.
Baxter, J. (1992). Power attitudes and time: The domestic division of labour. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 23, 165–182.
Baxter, J. (2009). Parental time with children. Do job characteristics make a difference? Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from:
Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2004). Families in a runaway world. In S. Jacqueline, J. Treas, & M. Richards (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families (pp. 498–514). Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Bekkengen, L. (2002). Man far valja: Om foraldraskap och faraldraledighet i arbetsliv och familjeliv [Men can choose – about parenthood and parental leave in working life and family life]. Stockholm: Liber.
Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., Sayer, L. C., & Robinson, J. P. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social Forces, 79, 191–228.
Bianchi, S. M., Robinson, J. P., & Milkie, M. (2006). Changing rhythms of American family life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Bird, C. E. (1999). Gender, household labor, and psychological distress the impact of the amount and division of housework. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 32–45.
Bonke, J., & Jensen, B. (2012). Paid and unpaid work in Denmark – Towards gender equity. International Journal of Time Use Research, 9, 108–119.
Bosson, J. K., & Vandello, J. A. (2011). Precarious manhood and its links to action and aggression. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 82–86.
Braun, M., Lewin-Epstein, N., Stier, H., & Baumgärtner, M. K. (2008). Perceived equity in the gendered division of household labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 1145–1156.
Brines, J. (1994). Economic dependency, gender, and the division of labor at home. American Journal of Sociology, 100, 652–688.
Caswell, T. A., Bosson, J. K., Vandello, J. A., & Sellers, J. G. (2014). Testosterone and men’s stress responses to gender threats. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 15, 4–11.
Chrzan-Detkos, M., Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., & Pawlicka, P. (2011). Women, men and second shift-psychological determinants of work-life balance. Polish Journal of Social Sciences, 6, 123–140.
Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: modelling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1208–1233.
Connell, R. W. (2005). Change among the gatekeepers: men, masculinities, and gender equality in the global arena. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30, 1801–1825.
Croft, A., Schmader, T., & Block, K. (2015). An underexamined inequality: Cultural and psychological barriers to men’s engagement with communal roles. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 19, 343–370.
Cuddy, A., Wolf, E., Glick, P., Crotty, S., Chong, J., & Norton, M. I. (2015). Men as cultural ideals: cultural values moderate gender stereotype content. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 622–635.
Duyvendak, J. W., & Stavenuiter, M. (2004). Working fathers, caring men. reconciliation of working life and family life. Retrieved from:
Eagly, A. H., Wood, W., & Diekman, A. B. (2000). Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: A current appraisal. In T. Eckes & H. M. Trautner (eds.), The developmental social psychology of gender (pp. 123–174). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Eggebeen, D., Knoester, C., & McDaniel, B. (2012). The implications of fatherhood for men. In N. Cabrera & C. S. Tamis-LeMonda (eds.), Handbook of father involvement: multidisciplinary perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. 338–357). New York, NY: Rutledge.
Engelman, M., Agree, E. M., Yount, K. M., & Bishai, D. (2010). Parity and parents’ health in later life: The gendered case of Ismailia, Egypt. Population Studies, 64, 165–178.
Engle, P., Beardshaw, T., & Loftin, C. (2006). The child’s right to shared parenting. In L. Richter & R. Morrell (eds.), Baba: Men and fatherhood in South Africa (pp. 293–305). Cape Town: HSRC Press.
European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2012). The Involvement of Men in Gender Equality Initiatives in the European Union. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Eurostat. (2013). Sustainable development in the European Union. Statistical Books, 76–90.
Frisco, M. L., & Williams, K. L. (2003). Perceived housework equity, marital happiness, and divorce in duel-earner households. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 51–73.
Fuwa, M. (2004). Macro-level gender inequality and the division of household labor in 22 countries. American Sociological Review, 69, 751–767.
Fuwa, M., & Cohen, P. N. (2007). Housework and Social Policy. Social Science Research, 36, 512–530.
Gager, C. (1998). The role of valued outcomes, justifications, and comparison referents in perceptions of fairness among dual-career couples. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 622–648.
Geist, C. (2005). The welfare state and the home: regime differences in the domestic division of labor. European Sociological Review, 21, 23–41.
Giddens, A. (1992). The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2001). An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality. American Psychologist, 56, 109–118.
Gwizdała, M. (2013). Gender equality? Publish Opinion Research Center. Retrieved from: (20th July 2014).
Haas, L., & Hwang, C. P. (2008) The impact of taking parental leave on fathers’ participation in childcare and relationships with children: lessons from Sweden. Community, Work & Family, 11, 85–104. doi: 10.1080/13668800701785346.
Heilman, M. E., Wallen, A. S., Fuchs, D., & Tamkings, M. M. (2004). Penalties for success: Reactions to women who succeed at male gender-typed tasks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 416–427.
Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med, 7, e1000316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316.
Holter, Ø. G. (1997). Gender, Patriarchy and Capitalism – A Social Forms Analysis. Oslo: University of Oslo.
Holter, Ø. G. (2014). What’s in it for men? Old question, new data. Men and Masculinities, 17, 515–548. doi: 10.1177/1097184X14558237.
Holter, Ø. G., Svare, H., & Egeland, C. (2009). Gender Equality and Quality of Life – A Norwegian Perspective. Oslo: NIKK (Nordic Gender Institute).
Humberd, B., Ladge, J. J., & Harrington, B. (2015). The “New” Dad: Navigating Fathering Identity Within Organizational Contexts. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30, 249–266.
International Labour Organization. (2014). International Labour Standards. Retrieved from:
Johnson, J. L., Oliffe, J. L., Kelly, M. T., Galdas, P., & Ogrodniczuk, J. S. (2012). Men’s discourses of help-seeking in the context of depression. Sociology of Health & Illness, 34, 345–361.
Kan, M. Y., O’Sullivan, O., & Gershuny, J. (2011). Gender convergence in domestic work: Discerning the effect of interactional and institutional barriers from large-scale data. Sociology, 45, 234–251.
Katz-Wise, S. L., Priess, H. A, Hyde, J. S. (2010). Gender-role attitudes and behavior across the transition to parenthood. Developmental Psychology, 46, 18–28.
Kil, T., & Neels, K. (2014). Gender Inequality in the Division of Housework over the Life Course: a European Comparative Perspective. Paper presented at the European Population Conference. Budapest, Hungary. Retrieved from:
Klein, W., Izquierdo, C., & Bradbury, T. N. (2007). Working relationships: communicative patterns and strategies among couples in everyday life. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 4, 29–47. doi: 10.1080/14780880701473391.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Besta, T., Adamska, K., Jaśkiewicz, M., Jurek, P., & Vandello, J. (2016a). If my masculinity is threatened i won’t support gender equality? the role of agentic self-stereotyping in restoration of manhood and perception of gender relations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17, 274–284. doi: 10.1037/ men0000016.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., & Karasiewicz, K. (2014). Jestem unikalny, więc cenię Twoją unikalność? Wpływ aktywizacji tożsamości osobistej i społecznej na postrzeganie innych – porównanie międzykulturowe Polska–Indie [I am unique therefore I appreciate your uniqueness? Effects of personal and social identity priming on judgments of others: A cross-cultural comparison of Poland and India]. Psychologia Społeczna, 9/1, 54–67. doi: 10.7366/189618002014280104.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Pawlicka P., & Kalinow­ska-Żeleźnik, A. (2012). New female roles versus gender stereotypes – situation of women in the public sphere. In M. Lipowski & Nieckarz Z. (eds.), Empirical Aspects of the Psychology of Management (pp. 175–227). Gdynia: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Administracji i Biznesu im. Eugeniusza Kwiatkowskiego.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Żadkowska, M., Gajewska, M., Wroczyńska, A., & Znaniecka, M. (2016b). Navigator for couples. Manual for Couples. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Żadkowska, M., Gajewska, M., Wroczyńska, A., & Znaniecka, M. (2016c). course on work-life balance for couples. manual for educators. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Safdar, S., Jurek, P., & Bhardwaj, G. (2016d, paper to be submitted). Men in Communal Roles: Evaluations of norm violators in Canada, Norway, Poland & India.
Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Jurek, P., Besta, T., Korzeniewska, L., & Seibt, B. (2016e, paper to be submitted). De-gender them! Gendered division of household labour and men’s willingness to share it – cross-cultural comparison of Polish and Norwegian male students.
Kotsadama, A., & Finseraas, H. (2011). The state intervenes in the battle of the sexes: Causal effects of paternity leave. Social Science Research, 40, 1611–1622.
Lammi-Taskula, J. (2008). Doing fatherhood: understanding the gendered use of parental leave in Finland. Fathering, 6, 133–148.
Laurin, K., Kay, A. C., & Shepherd, S. (2011). Self-stereotyping as a route to system justification. Social Cognition, 29, 360–375.
McKeering, H., & Pakenham, K. I. (2000). Gender and generativity issues in parenting: do fathers benefit more than mothers from involvement in child care activities? Sex Roles, 43, 459–480.
Mikołajczak, M., & Pietrzak, J. (2015). A broader conceptualization of sexism: the case of Poland. In S. Safdar & N. Kosakowska-Berezecka (eds.), Psychology of Gender Through the Lens of Culture: Theories and Applications (pp. 169–192). New York: Springer.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Rudman, L. A. (2010). When men break the gender rules: status incongruity and backlash against modest men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 11, 140–151.
OECD Better Life Index. (2014). OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex....
O’Neill, C., McCaughan, E., Semple, C., & Ryan, A. (2013). Fatherhood and cancer: a commentary on the literature. European Journal of Cancer Care, 22, 161–168.
Oyserman, D. (2011). Culture as situated cognition: Cultural mindsets, cultural fluency, and meaning making. European Review of Social Psychology, 22, 164–214.
Öun, I. (2012). Work-family conflict in the nordic countries: a comparative analysis. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 43, 165–184.
Öun, I. (2013). Is it fair to share? perceptions of fairness in the division of housework among couples in 22 countries. Social Justice Research, 26, 400–421.
Poortman, A., & Van der Lippe, T. (2009). Attitudes toward housework and child care and the gendered division of labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 526–541.
Prentice, D. A., & Carranza, E. (2002). What women and men should be, shouldn’t be, are allowed to be, and don’t have to be: the contents of prescriptive gender stereotypes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 269–281.
Reich, N., Boll, Ch., & Leppin, J. S. (2012). Fathers’ childcare and parental leave policies: Evidence from Western European Countries and Canada. HWWI Research Papers 115, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
Richter, L. (2006). The importance of fathering for children. In L. Richter & R. Morrell (eds.), Baba: Men and fatherhood in South Africa (pp. 53–69). Cape Town: HSRC Press.
Roszak, J., Pałucka, R., & Rykaczewska, K. (2012). O zadowolonej kobiecie sukcesu i jej niezbyt szczęśliwym partnerze, czyli jak (nie)zależność finansowa w związku wpływa na postrzeganą satysfakcję życiową kobiet i mężczyzn [On satisfied successful woman and her not-so-satisfied partner – how financial (in)dependence influences the perception of women’s and men’s satisfaction with life]. In A. Chybicka, N. Kosakowska-Berezecka, & P. Pawlicka (eds.), Podróże między kobiecością a męskością [Journeys between femininity and masculinity] (pp. 39–58). Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza “Impuls”.
Rudman, L. A., & Fairchild, K. (2004). Reactions to counterstereotypic behavior: the role of backlash in cultural stereotype maintenance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 157–176.
Rudman, L. A., & Mescher, K. (2013). Penalizing men who request a family leave: is flexibility stigma a femininity stigma? Journal of Social Issues, 69, 322–340.
Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Nauts, S. (2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the gender hierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 165–179.
Rudman, L. A., & Phelan, J. E. (2010). The effect of priming gender roles on women’s implicit gender beliefs and career aspirations. Social Psychology, 41, 192–202.
Ruppanner, L. E. (2008). Fairness and housework: a cross-national comparison. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 39, 509–526.
Sanchez, L., & Thomson, E. (1997). Becoming mothers and fathers: Parenthood, gender and the division of labor. Gender and Society, 11, 747–762.
Scambor, E., Wojnicka, K., & Bergmann, N. (2013). The role of men in gender equality – European strategies & insights. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Schneider, D. (2012). Gender deviance and household work: the role of occupation. American Journal of Sociology, 17, 1029–1072.
Shelton, B. A., & John, D. (1996). The division of household labor. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 299–322.
Sikorska, M. (2009). Nowa matka, nowy ojciec, nowe dziecko. O nowym układzie sił w polskich rodzinach [New mother, new father, new child. On new relations of power among Polish families]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.
Spitze, G., & Loscocco, K. A. (2000). The labor of sisyphus? Women’s and men’s reactions to housework. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 1087–1100.
Stevens, D., Kiger, G., & Riley, P. J. (2001). Working hard and hardly working: domestic labor and marital satisfaction among dual-earner couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 514–526.
Strier, H., & Lewin-Epstein, N. (2007). Policy effects on the division of housework. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 9, 235–259.
Szczepańska, J. (2006). Men and women and share of household duties. Public Opinion Research Center. Retrieved from: (20th July 2014).
Tai, T., & Treas, J. (2013). Housework task hierarchies in 32 countries. European Sociological Review, 29, 780–791.
Thébaud, S. (2010). Masculinity, bargaining, and breadwinning: understanding men’s housework in the cultural context of paid work. Gender and Society, 24, 330–354.
Thévenon, O. (2011). Family policies in OECD countries: a comparative analysis. Population and Development Review, 37, 57–87.
Thompson, L. (1991). Family work: women’s sense of fairness. Journal of Family Issues, 12, 181–196.
Titkow, A., Duch-Krzystoszek, D., & Budrowska, B. (2004). Nieodpłatna praca kobiet. Mity, realia, perspektywy [Unpaid work of women. Myths, reality and perspectives]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo In­stytutu Filozofii i Socjologii PAN.
Treas, J., & Tai, T. (2010). Real Men Don’t Do Laundry? Avoidance of Female-Typed Household Tasks in 34 Countries. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Atlanta and Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA.
United Nations. (2011). Men in Families and Family Policy in a Changing World. Retrieved from:
United Nations. (2012). Men in Families and Family Policy in a Changing World. Retrieved from:
Vandello, J. A., & Bosson, J. K. (2013). Hard won and easily lost: A review and synthesis of theory and research on precarious manhood. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14, 101–113. doi: 10.1037/a0029826.
Vandello, J. A., Bosson, J. K., Cohen, D., Burnaford, R. M., & Weaver, J. R. (2008). Precarious manhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1325–1339.
Vandello, J. A., Hettinger, V. E., Bosson, J. K., & Siddiqi, J. (2013). When equal really isn’t equal: The masculine dilemma of seeking work flexibility. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 303–321.
Vogel, D. L., Heimerdinger-Edwards, S. R., Hammer, J. H., & Hubbard, A. (2011). “Boys don’t cry”: examination of the links between endorsement of masculine norms, self-stigma, and help-seeking attitudes for men from diverse backgrounds. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 58, 368–382.
Voicu, M., Voicu, B., & Strapcova, K. (2009). Housework and gender inequality in European countries. European Sociological Review, 25, 365–377.
Wiesmann, S., Boeije, H., van Doorne-Huiskes, A., & den Dulk, L. (2008). “Not worth mentioning”: The implicit and explicit nature of decision-making about the division of paid and domestic work. Community, Work & Family, 11, 341–363.
Wilkie, J. R., Ferree, M. M., & Ratcliff, K. S. (1998). Gender and fairness: marital satisfaction in two-earner couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 577–594.
Wight, V., Raley, S., & Bianchi, S. (2008). Time for children, one’s spouse and oneself among parents who work nonstandard hours. Social Forces, 87, 2–28.
Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2010). Gender. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (eds.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 629–667). New York: Wiley.
Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2012). Biosocial construction of sex differences and similarities in behavior. In J. M. Olson & M. P. Zanna (eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 55–123). London, UK: Elsevier.
World Health Organization. (2010). Policy approaches to engaging men and boys in achieving gender equality and health equity. Retrieved from:
Yodanis, C. (2010). The institution of marriage. In J. Treas & S. Drobnič (eds.), dividing the domestic: men, women, and household work in cross-national perspective (pp. 175–191). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Żadkowska, M. (2011). Mąż uczniem żony. O podziale obowiązków domowych na podstawie socjologii pary Jeana-Claude’a Kaufmanna [Husband – a wife student. Domestic duties division according to Jean-Claude Kaufmann sociology of couple]. In M. Świątkiewicz-Mosny (ed.), Rodzina – kondycja i przemiany [Family conditions and family changes] (pp. 89–101). Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego.
Żadkowska, M., Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., & Ryndyk, O. (2016, in press). Two worlds of fatherhood – comparing the use of parental leave among Polish fathers in Poland and in Norway. In K. Slany, E. Guriye, P. Pustułka, & M. Ślusarczyk (eds.), Transnational Polish families in Norway: social capital, integration, institutions and care. Warsaw: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers (2016, forthcoming).