Work and Family in the Modern Era: Perceived Job Insecurity, Gendered Relational Contexts, and the Occupational Structure

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This dissertation examined gender inequality in the contemporary context, focusing on the roles of perceived job insecurity, gendered relational contexts, and the occupational structure. The first chapter used panel data and fixed-effects models to examine how changes in different-sex, dual-earner partners’ levels of perceived job insecurity are related to changes in their division of housework time. The empirical results showed that when couples enter a scenario in which both partners perceive their jobs to be insecure, men’s housework contributions decrease. This pattern suggests that, in these circumstances, men’s jobs get prioritized and gender inequality in partners’ divisions of housework time deepens. The second chapter compared economic predictors of housework time between people in same-sex couples and people in different-sex couples. Nationally representative, time-diary data from the American Time Use Survey was used to estimate relationships between paid work time, earnings, and time spent in various types of housework tasks. Some of the relationships between economic factors and housework time were larger in magnitude for men in same-sex couples compared with men in different-sex couples. Among women, the couple-type differences in the associations of interest varied across the different types of housework tasks. I argued that the results suggest that the sex composition of couples affects how they divide housework: values, beliefs, and expectations about the gendered division of household labor that allocate labor based on sex differences between partners might influence the housework of different-sex couples, but are less applicable to same-sex couples. The final chapter analyzed inequality in the growth of flexible paid work hours from 1989 to 2018 as well as the structural sources of this growth, focusing in particular on the role of changes in the occupational structure of the labor market. Using harmonized data from the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey, it estimated linear probability models of flexible work hours and performed Kitagawa-Duncan-Blinder-Oaxaca-type decomposition analyses of the growth of flexible work hours. Results showed that the proportion of workers with flexible work hours grew for all occupations, but that it grew at a slower rate among education, healthcare, and traditional blue-collar occupations as compared with other occupations, such as management and other professional occupations, and that inequality in the proportion of workers with flexible work hours across occupations increased over time. Additionally, changes in workers’ job and personal characteristics, including their occupations, accounted for part of the growth of flexible work hours, but most of the growth occurred because the propensities of workers to have flexible hours changed. The finding that inequality in the proportion of workers with flexible work hours by occupation grew over time informs the literature seeking to understand unevenness in trends in family behaviors and gender inequality at work and at home. However, the finding that the proportion of workers with flextime grew within all occupations suggests a broad-based growth in the flexibility of work time. This in turn provides evidence that conditions may have become more favorable for achieving gender equality throughout the labor market.

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135 pages


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flexible work; flextime; housework; job insecurity; precarious work; same-sex couples


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Musick, Kelly

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Weeden, Kim
Lichter, Daniel T.

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Ph. D., Sociology

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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