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Deliverable 1 - Working paper on the division of labor in later life

Project: John Fell Fund, Oxford University

Together with Seung-Eun Cha, we are working on the division of labor in later life. 

Older adults continue being engaged in productive activities through unpaid work. In Korea, Kim (2019) shows that 84.8% of older adults participated in housework, whereas only 14.2% participated in paid work activities. Thus, housework makes up the most substantial chunk of productive activities later in life.

East Asian societies, including South Korea, are rapidly becoming ‘super-aged’ societies (Kim, 2019). However, little is known about how unpaid work is divided among heterosexual couples in later life. Thus, in this project, we study the division of unpaid labor among older couples using the Korean Time Use Survey of 2019.

Although the research of the productive activities of older adults has been established for a long time, rarely did the studies venture to test how our unpaid work theories work for older people. It remains unclear to what extent unpaid work theories can apply in later life, particularly upon retirement, when participation in the labor market and wages decline. In our project, we explore whether the resources can explain the division of housework among the elderly to any meaningful extent and what factors play a role in the age when resources no longer dictate daily activities.

Working paper is forthcoming.