Chinese and South Korean Families' Conceptualizations of a Fair Household Labor Distribution. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The present study set out to investigate how Chinese and South Korean families conceptualize fairness and a fair division of household labor. BACKGROUND: Previous cross-cultural research has found that a good portion of women and men find the gendered division of household labor fair. In response, scholars have attempted to discover what factors lead to a greater likelihood of reporting a gendered division fair. However, the majority of the scholarship on fairness perceptions has been limited to survey methods, in which fairness is not defined, and the individual's reasons for their fairness perception is not investigated. METHOD: This study employed thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with the members of 12 Chinese (N=39) and 12 Korean (N=40) families. RESULTS: No participation in household labor was considered across families to be unfair. On the other hand, the majority of participants justified an unequal division to be fair based on gendered applications of differences in time-availability and levels of tiredness, in which the amount of housework that each member should do was left unspecified. CONCLUSION: Many adult participants believed that fairness should not apply to the family context. Instead, most participants argued that household labor should be divided based on emotional satisfaction, maintained through mechanisms of understanding and agreement. IMPLICATIONS: Future studies on fairness perceptions should clearly define what they mean by "fairness," and the gendering of gender-neutral appearing justifications such as time-availability should be further investigated.

published proceedings

  • J Marriage Fam

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Midgette, A. J.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Midgette, Allegra J

publication date

  • January 2020