Discussion paper

Appliances and their impact: the ownership of domestic technology and time spent on household work

15 Oct 2003

Ever since the appearance of Vanek's pioneering article in 1974, there has been a controversy about whether 'labour saving' domestic appliances actually save labour time. The Australian 1997 Time Use Survey is unique among official surveys, as it simultaneously provides detailed information on time spent in housework and an inventory of household appliances. This paper analyses this data to show that domestic technology rarely reduces women's unpaid working time and even, paradoxically, produces some increases in domestic labour. The domestic division of labour by gender remains remarkably resistant to technological innovation.

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