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Hong Kong: Household Participation & Fertility Intentions

Study: Couples’ housework participation, housework satisfaction and fertility intentions among married couples in Hong Kong

  • Persistent Low Fertility: East Asian societies, notably Hong Kong, have experienced sustained low total fertility rates (TFR), raising concerns about population aging and labor force declines.
  • Gender Inequality at Home: A significant barrier to women achieving their desired fertility, impacting societal and economic dynamics.
  • Focus of Study: Examines the intricate relationship between couples’ housework participation, satisfaction, and fertility intentions in Hong Kong.

Why it Matters

  • Demographic Challenges: Low fertility rates pose long-term challenges for economic growth and social stability.
  • Gender Equity Theory: The study lends support to this theory, suggesting that unequal domestic burdens contribute to low fertility rates.

In-depth Background

  • TFR Trends in Hong Kong: The TFR fell below 1 in the early 2000s, recovered slightly, and then declined again in 2020.
  • Traditional Values: Despite low TFR, ideal fertility rates remain higher, indicating unmet fertility desires.
  • Research Gaps: Previous studies have not adequately explored the indirect relationship between housework and fertility, nor the conditions under which this relationship varies.

Study’s Core Propositions

  • Hypotheses Testing: Two sets of hypotheses focus on the relationship between housework arrangements, satisfaction, and fertility intentions.
  • Conceptual Framework: Integrates gender equity theory and distributive justice perspective from housework literature.


  • Data Collection: A representative household survey was conducted in Hong Kong, targeting married adults.
  • Sampling Strategy: Multistage sampling with stratification across Hong Kong districts.
  • Analytical Approach: Regression and logistic regression models, examining variables like housework time, satisfaction, fertility intentions, and gender role attitudes.

Key Findings

  1. Gender Differences in Housework: Women report significantly more housework time than men.
  2. Housework Satisfaction: Women’s satisfaction is negatively impacted by their housework time; spousal contribution positively influences satisfaction.
  3. Gender Role Attitudes: Act as moderators in the relationship between housework participation and satisfaction.
  4. Fertility Intentions: Positively associated with housework satisfaction, particularly among women.

Detailed Results

  • Regression Analyses: Reveal intricate dynamics between housework time, satisfaction, and fertility intentions.
  • Gender Specifics: Different patterns were observed for male and female respondents in terms of satisfaction and fertility intentions.

Limitations and Concerns

  • Causality Issues: Due to the cross-sectional nature of the data, the study cannot establish causation definitively.
  • Self-Report Accuracy: Potential over-reporting in time-use data, especially among men.

Implications for Policy and Future Research

  • Policy Recommendations: Advocating for gender equality at home and promoting paternal involvement in domestic labor.
  • Future Research Needs: Longitudinal studies and more reliable time-use data (e.g., diaries) to deepen understanding.


This comprehensive study elucidates the complex interplay between housework dynamics and fertility intentions in East Asia, particularly Hong Kong. It highlights the need for a societal shift towards greater gender equity in domestic responsibilities as a potential avenue to address the persistent low fertility rates. The findings have profound implications for policy-making and future research, urging a reevaluation of traditional gender roles and their impact on demographic trends.