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The Gender Division of Household Labor in Vietnam: Cohort Trends and Regional Variations

Publication Abstract

Teerawichitchainan, Bussarawan, John E. Knodel, Manh Loi Vu, and Tuan Huy Vu. 2010. "The Gender Division of Household Labor in Vietnam: Cohort Trends and Regional Variations." Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 41(1): 57-85.

This study addresses the extent of change and regional differences in gender roles in the Vietnamese family based on innovative surveys in northern and southern Vietnam. The similarities and differences in political, economic, and social histories between northern and southern Vietnam provide a compelling setting to investigate the impact of socialist policies and the recent shift from a centrally planned to a market economy on gender stratification in the domestic spheres. We assess determinants of the gender division of household labor among three marriage cohorts that underwent early marital years during 1) the Vietnam War and mass mobilization, 2) nationwide socialist collectivization and economic stagnation, and 3) market reform. We find that Vietnamese wives still do the vast majority of housework. In this sense, government efforts to change gender roles apparently have had at most limited success. Vietnamese husbands in the most recent marriage cohort, however, are more involved in household budget management and childcare than those in the two earlier cohorts. Thus, contrary to claims of some observers, evidence does not suggest that gender equality in the Vietnamese household has been deteriorating after the market reform.

Country of focus: Vietnam.

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