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Open Access

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Master of Science (M.S.)

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Division of Labor, Transition to Parenthood, Housework, Childcare, Marital Quality, Hierarchical Linear Modeling


This study examines relationships between the division of housework and childcare and marital love and conflict and perceived fairness as a mediator of those relationships. Gender role ideology is also examined as a moderator of the relationships between the division of labor predictors and perceived fairness. To this end 112 working-class, dual-earner couples having their first child were interviewed at three time points during the first year of parenthood after mothers returned to work. Findings indicate that wives’ reported greater marital love when their husbands performed more housework and more childcare, with fairness as a mediator of those relations. Husbands’ greater participation in both housework and childcare was directly related to their reports of marital love. For marital conflict, wives reported less conflict when husbands performed more childcare with perceived fairness as a mediator. Husbands reported less conflict when they performed a greater proportion of housework, with wives’ perceived fairness as a mediator. The division of childcare and perceived fairness were more strongly related for wives with egalitarian gender role ideology than for more traditional wives.


First Advisor

Maureen Perry-Jenkins