Household Division of Labour: Generation, Gender, Age, Birth Order and Sibling Composition


Punch S (2001) Household Division of Labour: Generation, Gender, Age, Birth Order and Sibling Composition. Work, Employment and Society, 15 (4), pp. 803-823.

The paper discusses the somewhat limited literature on children’s participation in household work and then presents empirical evidence from rural households in Bolivia which shows that the division of household labour is worked out according to generation, gender, age, birth order and sibling composition. It argues that whilst adult household labour is highly determined by gender roles, children’s labour often cuts across gender stereotypes and does not merely mirror the adult division of labour in rural households. The nature of generation-specific tasks are explored by presenting a detailed age-based division of labour in three different areas of unpaid household work: agriculture, animal-care and domestic work. The final part of the paper explores the ways in which birth order and sibling composition influence the distribution of children’s household work. Whilst the paper is based on a case study of a rural community in a low-income country, it highlights important factors such as birth order and sibling composition which have frequently been overlooked or ignored in household divisions of labour in both the Majority and Minority World.

household; division of labour; children; Bolivia; birth order; sibling composition; rural; Home economics; Division of labor; Sexual division of labor; Birth order; Brothers and sisters; Rural children Social conditions

Work, Employment and Society: Volume 15, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2001