Gender Inequality in Transitional China: Does Education Help Narrow Gender Gap in Couples’ Time Use?
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Using data from the 2010 survey of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), this study examines gender inequality in Chinese couples’ time use patterns in paid and unpaid work as well as leisure and social activities, and whether education narrows gender gaps, if any. In the analysis (11,368 couples, including 5,252 couples from urban areas and 6,114 couples from rural areas), we compare husband’s and wife’s time allocation on paid and unpaid work as well as leisure and social activities, and investigate the possible effects of education on narrowing such gender gaps. We examine not only the effects of the respective education levels of the husband and wife, but also whether having an equal or higher education level than her husband helps empower the wife to reduce time spent on unpaid work and narrow the gender gap in time use. OLS regressions are used, controlling for a rich array of individual, household, and community fixed effects.
We find substantial gender gap in time use patterns among Chinese couples. Across urban and rural areas and on both work and non-work days, wives spend much more time on personal and household care, especially on housekeeping and taking care of family members, while husbands spend more time on work and leisure/social activities. For urban wives, having the same or higher levels of education than their husbands help narrow the gender gap in time spent on personal and household care, paid work, and leisure/social activities. For rural wives, however, the role of education in helping narrow the gender gap in time use is mixed. Rural wives with the same or higher levels of education than their husbands are able to increase their time spent on leisure and social activities on both work and non-work days, an equalizing effect. However, rural wives with the same levels of education as their husbands actually increase their time spent on personal and household care on both work and non-work days, possibly as a way of compensating for the potential threat to traditional gender roles brought about by their equal levels of education as their husbands. These results help shed light on policy debates regarding gender inequality in China and around the world.