In the last decade, housework research emphasized the importance of focusing on economic resources, particularly women’s own resources, to analyze housework participation and the amount of time people spend on housework. Meanwhile, most research papers in the period modeled women’s and men’s housework time separately, whereas the need to analyze the gender gap itself remained.
We know that there are differences in housework time between women and men. We also know that resources, particularly women’s own resources, are important in explaining their housework time. But how much do economic resources actually matter in the gender gap in housework? Does the effect of resources increase or decrease over time?
In the recent paper published in the Social Science Journal, we answer these questions and analyze the gender gap in housework time using the American Time Use Survey Data Extract Builder (ATUS-X) data for the period of 2003-2019. First, we examined how much economic resources such as spousal and own usual weekly paid work hours, spousal and own hourly wage, and women’s earnings share explain the gender gap in housework time. As Figure 1 shows, the combined effect of resources can explain up to about 40% of the gender gap in housework.
Day laborers are among the most vulnerable workers in the United States. Nationally, about three-quarters are unauthorized immigrants from Latin America. Day laborers may wait on a street corner, outside home improvement stores, or at a growing network of non-profit worker centers throughout the country, hoping that an employer will hire them for the day. Some jobs may turn into longer-term arrangements or even contracts, but day labor is usually defined by daily jobs for hourly cash pay.
Wage theft—or the denial of legally owed wages and benefits—is particularly acute for day laborers. Wage theft can take many forms, but day laborers tend to suffer one its most egregious manifestations: outright non-payment.
In our mixed-methods study in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area, we explored what factors made day laborers vulnerable to wage theft. Did higher levels of education, more time and experience in the U.S., legal authorization, housing security, and English abilities improve the economic prospects of some workers? Or did the nature of contingent work more evenly distribute its associated work hazards like wage theft? Finally, we wondered if more legal knowledge would motivate workers to demand higher wages, improve their work prospects, and prevent wage theft?
Many connect ‘unfree labor’ with slavery. This view, however, makes other forms of ‘unfreedom,’ where labor is prevented from entering or exiting labor markets on their own, escape scrutiny.
Based on ethnographic research conducted among Sri Lanka’s female global factory workers, my new work demonstrates that even when women are not forced to join or stay within contractor labor pools, they remain unfree due to cultural and emotional bonds that restrict their mobility.
Focusing on the intricate ways such invisible bonds are produced, I shed light on the contradictions of global capitalism: specifically, the promise of freedom versus the reality of complex forms of coercion. Instead of the promised social independence, women encounter newer forms of control and discipline that seek to make them obedient workers of global assembly lines.
A common question when meeting someone new is asking them, “What do you do?”
People’s work, and the labor market more broadly, occupy millions of people’s lives in the U.S. and around the globe. But why is “What do you do?” often the first question? Of course it’s partly because most people need the money that work provides—and often need more money than their particular labor market job offers. It’s also because what we “do” is often shorthand to others for “who we are.”
Yet “who we are” does not begin to touch the lack of opportunity in many of today’s labor market jobs, whether in manufacturing, printing, construction, healthcare, clerical work, retail, real estate, architecture, or automotive services. These are occupations and industries that have employed nearly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce since 1980, as workers in these areas since the 1980s until today vividly describe in my new book.