Sunday, March 06, 2011

Comparative Advantage Probably Yields a Traditional Division of Household Labor

The authors of Spousenomics say that couples are happiest if they divide chores by comparative advantage - that is, if you do what you are somewhat better at. There does have to be some rough balance of the total labor that each does for the family, too.

I am confident that if couples followed this rule, the division of household labor would skew toward a traditional gender division of tasks. Any given couple might divide tasks up in any way at all, and some couples would be very untraditional, indeed.

Nonetheless, the traditional division of labor got to be traditional for a reason. It reflects the skew in the population as a whole of the comparative advantage of the sexes. So be it.


Anonymous said...

A lot of things got to be traditional for a reason, even if those reasons were really shitty. Africa was essentially conquered, enslaved, and impoverished for a reason. Women were denied the vote for a reason.

When one defends traditional gender roles, specifically regarding the supression of women, you have either got to come up with a better reason than "tradition", or admit misogyny.

Anonymous said...

"It reflects the skew in the population as a whole of the comparative advantage of the sexes."

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that so many household chores are so simplistic as to make the argument that one party (or sex) could be better at them absurd. A 7-year-old child of either sex can make beds, put away objects such as clothing, books, etc. that have been left out, vacuum, dust wipe down sinks/counters, etc. Are there really a high number of adults of typical intelligence and physical ability level that cannot do these things? I find the assertion dubious.