Inequality Within the Family: A Comparative Analysis of Gendered Working Time Preferences Among Dual-Earner Couples

Ronit Waismel-Manor, Asaf Levanon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The preference for reduced work hours is well-known to be associated with various social ramifications, but research on the determinants of workers’ preference is generally limited to investigating individual and job characteristics. Building on the paradigm of the social construction of gender, the life-course perspective, and scholarship on welfare policy, we examine the relationships between heterosexual dual-earner couples’ work hour arrangements and men’s and women’s own preferences for reduced work hours, as well as their desire for their spouses’ reduced work hours in 19 countries. This study contributes to the literature on gendered work hour preferences by theorizing and analyzing two gendered family-centered contexts: couples' adaptive strategies and work-family policy regimes as two main theoretical frameworks. Thus, our approach allows examining which couple-level strategies and policies can combat hours’ mismatch, given the gendered structure of work opportunities and gender norms. Second, we offer the first examination of the role that defamilization policies play in shaping preferences for reduced hours at the couple level. Using the 2010 European Social Survey, this study documents a pervasive preference for reduced work hours for men and women in dual-earner couples. Multilevel models indicate that, regardless of dual-earner couples’ work hour arrangements, individuals generally report preferences for working hours for themselves and their spouses that conform to a modified male breadwinner-female homemaker model. Moreover, individuals in dual-earner couples in countries with less developed work-family policies feel more pressed for time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-847
Number of pages16
JournalSex Roles
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Couples' adaptive strategies
  • Dual-earner couples
  • Gender inequality
  • Gender roles
  • Life-course perspective
  • Overemployment
  • Preferred working hours
  • Work hour arrangements
  • Work-family policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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