Back in September
When faced with a decline in marital satisfaction, are wives constrained from increasing their labor market work time in part because they “do gender”? One of the predictions of the human capital accumulation hypothesis, which assumes no constraints, is that housewives with little work experience will respond to a decline in marital satisfaction by increasing labor market work time (only). In contrast, the gender display hypothesis predicts that, in settings where the evaluations of marriage and wives’ work performance are closely intertwined, a decline in marital satisfaction among this group of housewives will increase both labor market work and housework—and the increase in housework serves as a constraint on the increase in labor market work. To evaluate these contrasting hypotheses, we analyze a panel survey of women in contemporary Japan. Results from multinomial logit regression models are more consistent with the gender display hypothesis than the human capital accumulation hypothesis. Housewives with relatively little work experience are eleven times more likely to increase the time spent on both labor market work and housework when the satisfaction of their marriage declines than when it does not. No evidence is found that, when marital satisfaction declines, these housewives are statistically significantly more likely to increase labor market work only.