Outsourcing domestic work: A double-edged sword for marital relations among dual-earner couples

Adam Ka Lok Cheung*, Lake Lui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: This study examines the relationship between domestic outsourcing, housework evaluations, and marital conflict, while also comparing the effects of parents' informal help and paid domestic workers' formal help on marital relations.

Background: Whereas the role-strain perspective asserts that shifting the housework burden to a third party can reduce marital conflict arising from housework division, the conflict perspective contends otherwise, especially when an additional family member is involved.

Methods: We analyzed household survey data with a representative sample of full-time dual-earning married couples in Hong Kong (N = 1,197). We used bivariate analysis and linear regression models to evaluate the relationship between domestic outsourcing, housework evaluations, and marital conflict.

Results: Results showed that getting help had significant indirect effects on marital conflict through housework evaluations. However, the two types of help were also positively associated with marital conflicts. The two types of help had simultaneously positive direct effects and negative indirect effects on marital conflicts, canceling out the effect of each other.

Implications: Our study illuminates the positive effect of outsourcing through housework evaluation. However, the benefit of domestic outsourcing cannot be realized if the conflicts induced by domestic outsourcing are not resolved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1158
Number of pages20
JournalFamily Relations
Volume73
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • domestic outsourcing
  • domestic workers
  • housework conflict
  • marital conflict
  • parental help

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