Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


Men's and Women's Time Use: Comparing Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Kei Nomaguchi (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Miner (Other)

Third Advisor

Kara Joyner (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

I-Fen Lin (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Wendy Manning (Committee Member)


How we spend our time has important implications for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our families. Prior research has shown that women in same-sex couples spend more time in paid work and less time in housework than women in different-sex couples, whereas men in same-sex couples spend less time in paid work and more time in housework than men in different-sex couples. Scholars tend to attribute these differences to an 'egalitarian ethic' of same-sex couples, ignoring the role of differences in personal characteristics between same-sex and different-sex couples, including sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., education, age), economic characteristics (e.g., hourly wage), family characteristics (e.g., residential children), relative resources between spouses, and occupational sex composition, in contributing to the gaps in paid work hours and housework between these couple types. Very little research has compared leisure time between same-sex and different-sex couples.

I draw on data from the 2015-2017 Current Population Survey and the 2003-2016 American Time Use Survey to address these gaps in the literature and contribute to time use scholarship among same-sex couples. For women's and men's paid work hours, differences in hourly wage account for the majority of the differences between same-sex and different-sex couples. For housework, contextual factors, particularly residential children, explain a portion of the gap across couple types among women, whereas these factors account very little for the housework gap between same-sex and different-sex couples among men largely because of countervailing effects. For leisure time, findings depend on the types of leisure. Women and men in same-sex couples spend more time on spouses' or partners' shared leisure as well as personal and adult leisure than do their counterparts in different-sex couples, largely because of the lack of children in the former households than the latter households. Men in same-sex couples spend less time in family-centered leisure, which is not explained by differences in the share of residential children. Apart from men's housework, I find support that personal characteristics contribute a notable portion of differences in time use between same-sex and different-sex couples. Results also gives insights to the importance of spouses and partners on women's and men's time use.