Time-avalaibility and Resource-bargaining in Housework Division: A Study of South Asian Couples in the US and UK

Zahra Khan

Advisor: Shannon N Davis, PhD, Mason Korea

Committee Members: James Witte, Brian Levy

Online Location, Zoom
May 09, 2024, 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM


This dissertation explores the division of housework among South Asian couples in the United States and the United Kingdom, examining how traditional theories of time-availability and resource-bargaining apply within these communities. Previous research on migrant South Asian couples has not compared whether and how the Western theories of time availability and resource-bargaining shape housework differently based upon the country where they migrated.  Through a detailed analysis of survey data, this study investigates the impact of various factors, including paid work hours, income levels, educational attainment on the allocation of domestic labor among migrant South Asian women and men. The research employs z-score analysis to identify significant differences in the effects of these factors on men's and women's contributions to housework, aiming to uncover the underlying dynamics that influence the gendered distribution of domestic tasks in this important immigrant group.

Key findings reveal that the expected correlations posited by time-availability and resource-bargaining theories do not consistently explain the patterns observed among South Asian immigrants. Notably, the study highlights the complex interplay between individual-level factors and broader structural and cultural contexts, suggesting that these influences may moderate the relationship between economic resources, time availability, and housework distribution. Given that global migration patterns reflect migration from South Asian countries to Western countries, understanding how these theories shape immigrant housework will be important for the overall study of housework in Western countries.

The analysis also points towards notable differences in how these factors impact housework division between the U.S. and U.K. contexts, indicating the importance of considering socio-cultural and policy environments in understanding domestic labor practices. Furthermore, the research highlights the need for incorporating a more holistic approach that accounts for the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, and immigrant experiences in shaping domestic labor dynamics.

This dissertation contributes to the broader sociology of family and work literature by providing insight into the division of housework among South Asian couples in Western contexts. It challenges existing theoretical frameworks and calls for a more integrated approach that combines individual, structural, and cultural factors to better understand the complexities of domestic labor division. The findings have implications for policymakers and practitioners seeking to promote gender equality and support the well-being of immigrant families.

Join us on Zoom: