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A Cross-National Comparison of the Gender Gap in Time-Use

Reanalyzing Data from Japan and Six Western Countries
TANAKA Sigeto <tsigeto(AT)nik.sal.tohoku.ac.jp>
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
The Annual Reports of Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University. Vol. 53, pp. 152-137. (2004)
ISSN 1346-7182

This paper is a translation of a Japanese paper published in 2001: " A cross-national comparison of the gender gap in time use: reanalyzing data from Japan and six Western societies ". Annals of human sciences. Vol. 22: pp. 17-31 <ISSN 0286-5149>.

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These files are different from the published version. Citation should be made from the published journal.


A secondary analysis of comparable time-use data (arranged by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute; the survey dates vary from 1985 to 1990) from Japan, Canada, US, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland, is conducted by means of a new mathematical procedure to decompose time-use-by-sex arrays distinguishing between effects of marginal distribution and effects of equalization in lifestyle.

Let a and y denote unpaid housework time by women and by men respectively; x and b denote paid work time by women and by men. Let the marginals be denoted as follows: F = a + x ; M = b + y ; T = F + M ; U = a + y. The index of sex-typed time-use, which is a variant of Yano Masakazu's hubyoudou sisuu [inequality scale], is defined as d = T - 2 ( x + y ). Because of the empirical constraint that women's and men's amount of labor (F and M) should balance with each other, d cannot exceed C = T-2|F-U|; this C depends on the marginals and presents a structural constraint on individuals' option. The appropriate estimator of the prevalence of the gender-equal lifestyle is E = (C-d)/C, a coefficient standardized to be margin-free.

Finally a two-dimensional (E x C) scatterplot of the seven countries is interpreted with the aid of a welfare state typology by Alan Siaroff (1994): (1) the gender equality in time-use (E) corresponds to the gender equality in the paid labor market; (2) in the Netherlands and in Japan the ceiling of sex-typed time-use (C) depends on the length of the standard paid working time, whereas among the other five countries, to which Siaroff referred as Protestant welfare states, C diverges according to the family welfare orientation.


time budget, sexual division of labor, gender equality, comparative welfare state regime, maximum asymmetry

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