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Gender differences in the quality of leisure: a cross-national comparison

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Considerable work-family research has investigated the gendered division of work and care. Gender differences in leisure time have received much less attention from work-family scholars, despite the potential importance of such inequalities for women’s quality of life. Combining key insights from the substantial gendered leisure studies literature with work-family scholarship, the current study examines cross-national variation in gender differences in leisure quality. Using data on 23 countries from the 2007 International Social Survey Program, we expected that women’s leisure quality would be lower than men’s, but the gender gap would be smaller in countries with more gender egalitarian attitudes and divisions of care (via de-familialisation and paternity leave) and where women have more bargaining power. Our results show that these country characteristics moderate the association between gender and the extent to which free time is used to relax and recover. In countries with conservative gender norms, low levels of childcare coverage, limited paternity leave and lower political power for women, women’s leisure quality is lower than men’s. In more egalitarian countries, the gender gap in leisure quality is lower and in some cases, reversed. These results are in line with findings from cross-national research on the gendered division of labor and offer an important contribution to understanding gender differences in leisure quality across countries.
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Keywords: Estudios transnacionales; análisis multinivel; cross-national research; gender; género; leisure; multilevel analysis; ocio; presión de tiempo; time pressure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands 2: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research, The Hague, the Netherlands 3: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: August 7, 2020

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