Hiring domestic help and family well-being in Hong Kong: A propensity score matching analysis

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The outsourcing of household tasks has become an important strategy for couples to avert the conflict between work and family roles. There is an increasing trend of domestic outsourcing, including the use of hired domestic help, in many societies where work-family conflict is prevalent. Despite the increasing popularity of outsourcing domestic tasks, the possible impact of hiring domestic help on family relations remains an important gap in the literature. The contributions of hiring domestic help to the employers’ family, such as averting marital conflict and improving marital quality, are often assumed in the literature but are rarely examined using empirical data, especially in a non-western context. This paper investigates the effects of hiring domestic help on two indicators of the employers’ family well-being: marital conflict and marital quality. Analyzing data from a territory-wide representative household survey in Hong Kong (N = 974) using the propensity score matching method, the current study finds only weak positive effects of hiring domestic help. None of the effects are statistically significant. Contrary to previous claims, the data from this study suggest that the effects of hiring domestic help on the employers’ family well-being are far from substantial. These findings are consistent with previous research suggesting that hiring a paid domestic helper to share the housework does not substantially change the division of domestic labor. Studies that previously assumed that hiring domestic help enabled families with resources to enjoy a better family life may have been overly optimistic. Further investigations on the family life of these families after they had hired domestic help are called for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-495
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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