The role of valued outcomes, justifications, and comparison referents in perceptions of fairness among dual-earner couples

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This research examines factors that may explain why full-time employed wives, despite performing more housework than their full-time employed husbands, fail to report that an unequal division of household labor is unfair. Using interview data for 25 dual-earner couples, this article explores the relationships of valued outcomes, justifications, and choice of comparison referents to perceptions of fairness in the division of household labor. The data show that both husbands and wives positively value some aspects and outcomes of household tasks. The data also provide a basis for describing how spouses' use of justifications helps to explain the maintenance of inequality in the division of labor. Finally, the data demonstrate that spouses' peer comparisons play an important role in shaping their evaluations of fairness in household labor. The implications of these findings for survey data analysis and future survey data collection efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-648
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998


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