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Somebody has to DUST! Gender, health, and housework in older couples

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Abstract

This study examines the link between health and housework among older couples. For those out of the paid labor force, many of the standard arguments about relative resources and time availability no longer hold. Women spend more time on domestic tasks than men at any age; however, it is unclear how health shapes the household division of labor based on gender among older adults. This study examines the relative effect of three dimensions of health. Women’s poor health increases the chance of an equal division of labor, but the gender nature of household tasks may limit women’s ability to cut back.

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... The few existing studies on the relationship between health and housework performance are limited in scope (Caltabiano, Campolo, & Di Pino, 2016;Geist & Tabler, 2018;Gimenez-Nadal & Molina, 2015;Gimenez-Nadal & Ortega-Lapiedra, 2013;Hank & Jürges, 2007;Podor & Halliday, 2012;Stich & Hess, 2014). These studies have relied either on cross-sectional or on short-term longitudinal data to examine health effects on housework. ...
... The few cross-sectional studies that have explicitly addressed the relationship between health status and housework have shown mixed evidence. In U.S. studies, poorer health was associated with less housework time (Geist & Tabler, 2018;Podor & Halliday, 2012). In European studies, better health was associated with less time devoted to housework (Gimenez-Nadal & Molina, 2015;Gimenez-Nadal & Ortega-Lapiedra, 2013). ...
... Second, although our main predictor of interest-selfrated health-improved on the measures used in previous studies on the association between health and housework (Caltabiano et al., 2016;Geist & Tabler, 2018;Gimenez-Nadal & Molina, 2015;Podor & Halliday, 2012;Stich & Hess, 2014), it is still subject to important limitations. For example, previous research has found that self-ratings of health may be affected by factors other than health changes, such as self-esteem (Borawski, Kinney, & Kahana, 1996;Ferraro & Feller, 1996). ...
Article
Objectives To examine how changes in wives’ and husbands’ health influenced housework time and domestic outsourcing in retired couples. Method We estimated fixed-effects models to test hypotheses about the gendered influence of health declines on absolute and relative measures of time spent on routine and nonroutine housework as well as the probability of outsourcing housework. The data were obtained from 23 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, comprising N = 25,119 annual observations of N = 3,889 retired couples aged 60–85 years. Results Wives’ and husbands’ housework time declined with health status, but these effects were large only for serious health problems. We found evidence for within-couple compensation of spouses’ health declines, a mechanism that was limited to indispensable tasks of routine housework. The probability of getting paid help from outside the household increased with declining health, and this increase was more strongly tied to wives’ health declines than to husbands’ health declines. Discussion The results demonstrate the relevance of health status for the performance of housework in retired couples. The evidence attests to the resilience of couples during later-life stages in which health issues may severely inhibit domestic productivity.
... We included individual and household sociodemographic characteristics as controls. Considering the likelihood that health and disability impacted housework (Curl & Townsend, 2014;Geist & Tabler, 2018) and well-being later in life (Adjei & Brand, 2018), we included the participants' own health status after retirement as well as their spouse's health after retirement as controls. Mental health in older adults differs by race and ethnicity (Lincoln, 2020). ...
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This study explored the role of midlife market-work arrangements of married mixed-gender couples on gendered experiences in emotional well-being and housework during the encore years. Working during midlife may shape long-term outcomes after couples leave the workforce and begin retirement. Using three theories of gender as a framework to understand work sharing in couples, the study theoretically connects work arrangements in midlife with long-term predictions of gender differences in couple emotional well-being and housework. Using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (2000–2015; N = 3,231), the study found that gender differences in housework were similar in male-earner and dual-earner couples during the encore years. However, women in male-earner marriages reported low levels of emotional well-being in the encore years, while men in dual-earner couples in mid-life reported high levels of well-being. The findings suggest more gendered experiences in midlife employment correlated with worse mental health in the encore years for women. Understanding midlife employment as a protective factor against depressive symptoms is useful for families, practitioners, and policymakers to be aware of as they seek to understand and mitigate drivers of poor mental health during the encore years. The study demonstrates a need for further development of dynamic theoretical models to explain gender differences over the life course.
... Older men who perform these activities on their own may feel a loss of face (mianzi) and damage to their self-image, thus reducing their life satisfaction (although they can function very well in daily life). Geist and Tabler (2018) have found that in the United States of America older men are also reluctant to share housework. Equal division of housework, especially in activities of preparing meals, doing laundry and cleaning, is realised only when older women are in poor health. ...
Article
In urban China, the social welfare system and the family structure have changed dramatically, while gender norms are still deep-rooted, particularly among older adults. Under this social, demographic and cultural context, this study aims to take a gender-specific perspective to investigate whether and how gender moderates the roles of pensions, social support and self-care ability on older adults’ life satisfaction. Based on the survey data collected from 2,047 older adults aged 65 years and over in urban China in 2018, multiple linear regressions were applied to explore the moderation effects. The results show that the pension is important to older adults’ life satisfaction regardless of gender. For social support, the association between family support and life satisfaction is stronger for older men than for older women; interdependent social support, especially being a confidant, matters more to women than to men. The interaction between self-care ability and gender reveals some interesting patterns: self-care ability is found to have a positive association with women's life satisfaction but a negative association with men's. This study contributes to the existing literature by demonstrating how gender intertwines with the most important factors of older adult's life satisfaction in China – a society with strong gender norms and a patriarchal culture. These findings could be relevant to other Asian societies.
... Community & Health Services-Community residents of all ages may at some time suffer injury, become ill, or experience life-events that require other forms of outside assistance (such as help with accessing food or housing). Indeed, as individuals age, declines in health and functioning often make simple daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and grocery shopping difficult (Geist & Tabler, 2018). In response, agefriendly communities develop and maintain an array of community and health services designed to restore well-being when health events and other life-stressors arise. ...
... Additionally, previous research has shown that age and sex impact time spent on household chores with older adults and women spending more time on daily housework (Wong & Almeida, 2013). Furthermore, older age is associated with worse physical health (Geist & Tabler, 2018), better well-being (Stone, Schwartz, Broderick, & Deaton, 2010), and better marital quality (Gorchoff, John, & Helson, 2008). Additionally, hours of paid work is a factor that partners consider when negotiating the household chore distribution; often the spouse who works fewer hours each week contributes more time to household chores (Thomas et al., 2018). ...
Article
For most adults, household chores are undesirable tasks yet need to be completed regularly. Previous research has identified absolute hours spent on household chores and one's perceived fairness of the housework distribution as predictors of romantic relationship quality and well-being outcomes. Drawing from the Equity Theory, we hypothesized that perceived fairness acts as an underlying psychological mechanism linking household chores hours to long-term effects of relationship quality, well-being, physical health, and sleep quality in a sample of 2,644 married and cohabiting adults from the Midlife Development in the U.S. study. Additionally, following the Reserve Capacity Model, socioeconomic status (SES) was tested as a moderator because of its association with exposure to stressors and psychological resources which contribute to perceived fairness. Moderated mediation results showed significant indirect effects of household chore hours through perceived fairness on prospective measures of well-being, marital quality, physical health, and sleep dysfunction among individuals of lower SES but not higher SES when controlling for age, sex, and paid work hours. These results highlight the importance of perceived fairness and the influence of SES in the links among household chores and long-term relationship processes, health, and well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... For men, long hours of housework was associated with good health status regardless of sleep duration, whereas these very long hours of housework combined with either short or long sleep was negatively associated with health among women. In fact, these patterns suggest that long housework hours is less sensitive to elderly men's health [67] since the impact of long housework and health status appeared to be least influenced by sleep duration. ...
Article
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Background: After retirement, elderly men and women allocate more time to housework activities, compared to working-age adults. Nonetheless, sleep constitutes the lengthiest time use activity among the elderly, but there has not been any study on the associations between time spent on housework activities, sleep duration and self-reported health among the older population. This study not only examined individual associations between self-reported health and both housework activities and sleep duration, but it also explored self-reported health by the interaction effect between housework activities and sleep duration separately for men and women. Methods: Pooled data from the Multinational Time Use Study (MTUS) on 15,333 men and 20,907 women from Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, France, the Netherlands and the US were analysed. Multiple binary logistic regression models were used to examine the associations between three broad categories of housework activities ((1) cooking, cleaning and shopping, (2) gardening and maintenance; (3) childcare) and health. We further investigated the extent to which total housework hours and sleep duration were associated with self-reported health for men and women separately. Results: We found a positive association between time devoted to housework activities, total housework and health status among elderly men and women. Compared to those who spent 1 to 3 h on total productive housework, elderly people who spent >3 to 6 h/day had higher odds of reporting good health (OR = 1.25; 95% CI = 1.14-1.37 among men and OR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.01-1.20 among women). Both short (<7 h) and long (>8 h) sleep duration were negatively associated with health for both genders. However, the interactive associations between total productive housework, sleep duration, and self-reported health varied among men and women. Among women, long hours of housework combined with either short or long sleep was negatively associated with health. Conclusions: Although time allocation to housework activities may be beneficial to the health among both genders, elderly women have higher odds of reporting poor health when more time is devoted total housework combined with either short or long sleep duration.
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To describe the patterns of clinical presentation in a series of 407 patients with uveitis and to establish the relationship between these patterns and the final diagnosis. Patients were referred to the Uveitis Clinic of a tertiary hospital from January 1992 to January 1996. All patients received a complete ophthalmologic examination, and a general clinical history was obtained. The current International Uveitis Study Group classification system was used for anatomic classification. To establish the final diagnosis of the most common entities causing uveitis, current diagnostic criteria were used. A discriminant analysis, with diagnostic grouping as the outcome variable and the clinical presentation features as discriminating variables, was performed. With our classification system, 66.5% of the cases could be correctly classified according to the clinical pattern and morphologic findings. By diagnostic groups, discriminant analysis showed that 75% of patients with Behçet's disease, 77.1% of those with spondylarthropathy (including inflammatory bowel disease), 33.3% of those with sarcoidosis, 97.9% of those with toxoplasmosis, 85.7% of those with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, 100% of those with herpes, and 50.4% of those with idiopathic uveitis were correctly classified. In the miscellaneous group, which included disease entities with fewer than 5 cases, 42.9% were correctly classified. Rheumatologic evaluation of the patient with uveitis can be more cost-effective if the referring ophthalmologist follows the classification system described herein, allowing a tailored approach in which only specific and necessary diagnostic tests are used.
Article
Using a national longitudinal survey of a representative sample of 1,256 adults, I assess the impact of the amount of household labor performed and its division within the household on men's and women's depression levels, adjusting for prior mental health status. I test two alternative explanations of the contributions of household labor and the division of household labor to gender differences in depression: differential exposure and differential vulnerability. The results indicate that men's lower contributions to household labor explain part of the gender difference in depression. Inequity in the division of household labor has a greater impact on distress than does the amount of household labor. Employment status moderates the effect of the division of labor on depression. Among those who describe themselves as keeping house, depression was lowest for those who performed 79.8 percent of housework. In contrast, for those employed full-time the minimum level of depression occurs at 45.8 percent of the household labor. Men report performing 42.3 percent of the housework in their homes compared to 68.1 percent reported by women. Thus, on average women are performing household labor beyond the point of maximum psychological benefit, whereas men are not. Social support mediates the effects of the division of household labor. The only gender difference in effects occurred among those who are married, for whom social support was associated with lower levels of depression for women than men.
Article
High blood pressure is associated with abnormalities in calcium metabolism. Sustained calcium loss may lead to increased bone-mineral loss in people with high blood pressure. We investigated the prospective association between blood pressure and bone-mineral loss over time in elderly white women. We studied 3676 women who were initially assessed in 1988-90 (mean age 73 years [SD 4, range 66-91 years]; mean bodyweight 65.3 kg [11.5]; blood pressure 137/75 mm Hg [17/9]) who were not on thiazide diuretics. Mean follow-up was 3.5 years. Anthropometry, blood pressure, and bone-mineral density at the femoral neck were measured at baseline and bone densitometry was repeated after 3.5 years by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. After adjustment for age, initial bone-mineral density, weight and weight change, smoking, and regular use of hormone-replacement therapy, the rate of bone loss at the femoral neck increased with blood pressure at baseline. In the quartiles of systolic blood pressure, yearly bone losses increased from 2.26 mg/cm2 (95% CI 1.48-3.04) in the first quartile to 3.79 mg/cm2 in the fourth quartile (3.13-4.45; test for heterogeneity, p=0.03; test for linear trend, p=0.01), equivalent to yearly changes of 0.34% (0.20-0.46) and 0.59% (0.49-0.69; test for heterogeneity, p=0.02; test for linear trend, p=0.005). There was no significant interaction with age. The exclusion of women on antihypertensive drugs did not alter the results. For diastolic blood pressure, there was an association with bone loss in women younger than 75 years. Higher blood pressure in elderly white women is associated with increased bone loss at the femoral neck. This association may reflect greater calcium losses associated with high blood pressure, which may contribute to the risk of hip fractures.
Article
Family members play a major role in providing caregiving assistance to elderly persons and their families. The effect of stressors on family members caring for a physically or mentally ill person has been referred to as caregiver burden. It is an important concern and will become more so with the inevitable aging of the population. Community health and home health nurses must be able to recognize those factors associated with caregiver burden to effectively render care to their clients and families. This study examined caregiver characteristics and the degree to which these variables affect caregiver burden. Although much research focuses on caregivers of Alzheimers clients, this research utilized a wider variety of client diagnoses to examine caregiver burden of those clients. A sample representing 88 caregivers of elderly chronically ill persons was obtained from various sources in the community. Demographic data about the caregiver was collected. The amount of burden they experienced was recorded using the Burden Interview (Zarit et al., 1986). This study found that there was a positive correlation between increased activities of care performed by the caregiver and caregiver burden. This included both the provision of direct care such as bathing and indirect care such as running errands, preparing meals, and performing housework. It was found that sons, as caregivers, reported significantly less burden than did daughters or other relatives. Community health and home health nurses working with families in a caregiving situation have an opportunity to reduce caregiver burden. This is done by assessment of the caregiving environment and implementation of plans for early intervention.
Article
According to J. W. Rowe and R. L. Kahn (1997), successful aging is the combination of low probability of disease, high functioning, and active engagement with life. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between active engagement with life and functioning in a convenience sample of community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older. In this cross-sectional study, 244 members of an organization for older adults were mailed a survey containing the Activity Checklist and the Social Support Inventory as measures of engagement with life and the SF-12 Health Survey as a measure of functioning. Hierarchical linear regression showed that maintenance of instrumental, social, and high-demand leisure activities was associated with higher physical health scores and maintenance of low-demand leisure activities was associated with lower physical health scores. Maintenance of low-demand leisure activities was associated with higher mental health scores. If changes in potentially modifiable risk factors such as activity are associated with the beginning of functional decline, early intervention may be possible before disability ensues, thus reducing the risk of disability and ultimately health care costs.
Article
Activity has long been thought to be related to successful aging. This study was designed to examine longitudinally the relation between everyday activities and indicators of successful aging, namely well-being, function, and mortality. The study was based on the Aging in Manitoba Study, with activity being measured in 1990 and function, well-being, and mortality assessed in 1996. Well-being was measured in terms of life satisfaction and happiness; function was defined in terms of a composite measure combining physical and cognitive function. Regression analyses indicated that greater overall activity level was related to greater happiness, better function, and reduced mortality. Different activities were related to different outcome measures; but generally, social and productive activities were positively related to happiness, function, and mortality, whereas more solitary activities (e.g., hand-work hobbies) were related only to happiness. These findings highlight the importance of activity in successful aging. The results also suggest that different types of activities may have different benefits. Whereas social and productive activities may afford physical benefits, as reflected in better function and greater longevity, more solitary activities, such as reading, may have more psychological benefits by providing a sense of engagement with life.
Article
This study examines the degree to which the division of household and child-care tasks predicts working-class women's well-being across the transition to parenthood. Women completed questionnaires about the division of labor and their well-being before the birth of their first child and upon returning to work. Results showed that violated expectations regarding the division of child care were associated with increased distress postnatally, and there was some evidence that this relationship was moderated by gender ideology. Traditional women whose husbands did more child care than they expected them to do were more distressed. Work status also moderated the relationship between violated expectations and distress. The results suggest that the division of child care is more salient in predicting distress than the division of housework, for working-class women, at this time point.
Article
Despite the documented association of cognitive dysfunction with impairment in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) in geriatric depression, the relationship among deficits in distinct IADLs with severity of depression and specific cognitive impairments remains to be clarified. The authors examined the relationship of depression severity and the cognitive domains of attention, initiation/perseveration, construction, conceptualization, and memory to nine distinct IADLs. The subjects were 105 nondemented elderly patients but with impairment in at least one IADL and a history or presence of major depression. Impairment in IADLs and severity of depression were assessed with the Philadelphia Multilevel Assessment Instrument (MAI) and the 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (Ham-D), respectively. Cognitive dysfunction was assessed with the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) and the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale (DRS). Six IADLs were influenced by impairment in at least one of the cognitive domains. Abnormal scores in initiation/perseveration, an aspect of executive dysfunction, was the cognitive impairment affecting most IADLs; it interfered with the ability to shop for groceries, prepare meals, take medicine, and manage money. Impairment in initiation/perseveration had a most prominent effect in the presence of depressive symptoms and affected shopping for groceries and preparing meals. Lack of interest and motivation, part of the depressive syndrome, compounded by behavioral abnormalities resulting from executive dysfunction, may account for this interaction. These relationships may provide the background for developing interventions targeting functional deficits associated with specific cognitive dysfunctions and depression.
Article
To provide a single source for the best available estimates of the US prevalence of and number of individuals affected by osteoarthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis, gout, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as the symptoms of neck and back pain. A companion article (part I) addresses additional conditions. The National Arthritis Data Workgroup reviewed published analyses from available national surveys, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the National Health Interview Survey. Because data based on national population samples are unavailable for most specific rheumatic conditions, we derived estimates from published studies of smaller, defined populations. For specific conditions, the best available prevalence estimates were applied to the corresponding 2005 US population estimates from the Census Bureau, to estimate the number affected with each condition. We estimated that among US adults, nearly 27 million have clinical osteoarthritis (up from the estimate of 21 million for 1995), 711,000 have polymyalgia rheumatica, 228,000 have giant cell arteritis, up to 3.0 million have had self-reported gout in the past year (up from the estimate of 2.1 million for 1995), 5.0 million have fibromyalgia, 4-10 million have carpal tunnel syndrome, 59 million have had low back pain in the past 3 months, and 30.1 million have had neck pain in the past 3 months. Estimates for many specific rheumatic conditions rely on a few, small studies of uncertain generalizability to the US population. This report provides the best available prevalence estimates for the US, but for most specific conditions more studies generalizable to the US or addressing understudied populations are needed.
Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor
  • S M Bianchi
  • M A Milkie
  • L C Sayer
  • J P Robinson
Bianchi, S. M., Milkie, M. A., Sayer, L. C., & Robinson, J. P. (2000). Is anyone doing the housework? Trends in the gender division of household labor. Social Forces, 79(1), 191-228. doi:10.1093/sf/79.1.191
Housework: Who did, does or will do it, and how much does it matter? Social Forces
  • S M Bianchi
  • L C Sayer
  • M A Milkie
  • J P Robinson
Bianchi, S. M., Sayer, L. C., Milkie, M. A., & Robinson, J. P. (2012). Housework: Who did, does or will do it, and how much does it matter? Social Forces, 91(1), 55-63. doi:10.1093/sf/sos120
Headed toward equality? Housework change in comparative perspective
  • C Geist
  • P N Cohen
Geist, C., & Cohen, P. N. (2011). Headed toward equality? Housework change in comparative perspective. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(4), 832-844. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00850.x
The Panel Study of Income Dynamic: Second supplement on Disability and Use of Time (DUST 2013) user guide: Release 2013.1. Institute for Social Research
  • V A Freedman
  • J C Cornman
Freedman, V. A., & Cornman, J. C. (2014). The Panel Study of Income Dynamic: Second supplement on Disability and Use of Time (DUST 2013) user guide: Release 2013.1. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Retrieved fromhttps://psidonline.isr.umich.edu/DUST/dust09_UserGuide.pdf
On a new schedule: Transitions to adulthood and family change. The Future of Children
  • F F Furstenbergjr
FurstenbergJr., F. F., (2010). On a new schedule: Transitions to adulthood and family change. The Future of Children, 20(1), 67-87. doi:10.1353/foc.0.0038
Is housework good for retirees? Family Relations
  • M Szinovacz
Szinovacz, M. (1992). Is housework good for retirees? Family Relations, 41(2), 230-238.