"Our research is counterintuitive," Brines said.
The study, published in the February issue of the journal American Sociological Review, tapped information on roughly 4,500 married U.S. couples who participated in the National Survey of Families and Households.
The nationally representative data, collected between 1992 and 1994, is considered the most recent large-scale information measuring sexual frequency in married couples. The average age of survey participants was 46 for the husbands and 44 for the wives, and the marriages were all heterosexual.
Together, the couples spent about 34 hours a week on traditionally female chores, plus an additional 17 hours a week on tasks typically considered men's work. Husbands did about one-fifth of so-called traditional female chores and a little more than half of the male tasks, suggesting that wives helped out with the men's chores more often than husbands took on the wives'.
The researchers accounted for differences in self-reported happiness in the marriage, how recently the couples were married, family structure, each spouse's time spent in paid work, the wife's share of income, education and self-rated health, among other factors.
Men and women reported having sex an average of about five times a month. For those couples in which the wife does all the traditionally female housework, husbands and wives reported having sex 1.6 times more a month than those where the husband does a larger share of those chores.
Does the data still apply now, 20 years after the survey was done? Brines said that although a lot has changed in marriage since the 1960s -- especially with women increasingly taking on jobs outside the home and men having a greater role in child rearing -- research shows relatively little change in household assignment of tasks since the 1990s.
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