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To Honor and Obey: Efficiency, Inequality, and Patriarchal Property Rights

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  • Elissa Braunstein
  • Nancy Folbre

Abstract

In this paper we use the logic of contractual relationships within the family to explore how technological change, distributional struggle, and collective action can help explain the relationship between economic development, fertility decline, and the emergence of more egalitarian marriages. We draw on the historical context of Great Britain and the U.S. between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries to argue that the property rights afforded male household heads constituted a system of residual claimancy not unlike modern contractual relationships within the capitalist firm. Based upon these patriarchal property rights, we present a simple model of household decisions to allocate women's labor between productive and reproductive activities, comparing the outcomes of egalitarian and patriarchal governance and concluding that patriarchal governance may create incentives for men to force women to "overspecialize" in reproductive labor.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Feminist Economics.

Volume (Year): 7 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 25-44

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Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:7:y:2001:i:1:p:25-44

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Related research

Keywords: Economics Of The Family; Residual Claimancy; Patriarchal Property Rights; Reproductive Labor; Family Law; Patriarchal Production;

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References

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  1. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  3. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  4. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  5. Dow, Gregory K., 1987. "The function of authority in transaction cost economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-38, March.
  6. Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Cleaning house : New perspectives on Households and Economic Development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 5-40, June.
  7. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  8. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
  9. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  10. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
  11. Lommerund, K.E., 1997. "Battle of the Sexes: Non-Cooperative Games in the Theory of the Family," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 174, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  13. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  14. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  15. Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Hearts and spades: Paradigms of household economics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-255, February.
  16. Bina Agarwal, 1997. "''Bargaining'' and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1-51.
  17. Stark,Oded, 1999. "Altruism and Beyond," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521663731, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Elke Holst & Andrea Schäfer & Mechthild Schrooten, 2010. "Gender, Transnational Networks and Remittances: Evidence from Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 296, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Scott Steele, 2002. "Gender-Based Advantage: A Model of Emerging and Constructed Opportunities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 77-97.
  3. K. Powlick, 2009. "The Value of Advanced Interdisciplinary Classes for Students of Economics: Case Study of a 300-Level Class on Gender in the Economy," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 189-200, July.
  4. Robert Fleck & F. Hanssen, 2009. "“Rulers ruled by women”: an economic analysis of the rise and fall of women’s rights in ancient Sparta," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 221-245, July.

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