The Interplay of Equity and Gender Ideology in Perceived Housework Fairness. Evidence from an Experimental Vignette Design

  • Renzo Carriero
  • Lorenzo Todesco


Previous studies on the perceived fairness of the division of housework have suffered from limitations resulting from the use of observational data, namely reverse causation and the difficulty of disentangling the effects of strongly interconnected factors. This article overcomes these limitations by using an innovative method in this research field: a survey-based vignette design combining the benefits of experiments with a higher capability of generalization. From our findings based on Italian primary data, we argue that both equity and gender ideology theories concur to explain housework fairness. Consistently with equity theory, under certain conditions it is considered fair to exchange paid and unpaid time, regardless of their economic value. Moreover, a request to renegotiate housework is more legitimate if it redresses a prior inequity and, for women, irrespective of the asker’s gender. Gender ideology affects partners’ equity considerations, weighting their contribution to paid and unpaid work differently.