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Relative Earnings of Husbands and Wives in Urban China

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  • Hongbin Li
  • Lai Ting Sin
  • Junsen Zhang
  • Yaohui Zhao

Abstract

This paper studies the relative contribution of husbands and wives to the family income in the process of economic transition by using the Chinese Urban Household Survey data from 1988 to 1999. We find that, contrary to the experience of western countries, the share of wives¡¦ labor earnings in urban China tends to decline slightly over time and the share of husbands¡¦ labor earnings is stable. This implies that the role of urban Chinese husbands as the main financial supporters of their families becomes relatively more important during economic transition. We argue that this trend may have reflected the restoration of the functions of household production and labor market in the process of economic transition. This restoration allows households to allocate time, effort and human capital investment for each household member and for each household and market activity in a more efficient way. Our further empirical analysis suggests that at least two factors have accounted for the strengthening of the relative importance of husbands in contributing to family income in urban China: 1) the enlargement of the positive effect of children on husbands and the opposite effect for wives; and 2) the shrinkage of the positive income effect on the leisure of husbands.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 00014.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:chk:cuhkdc:00014

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  1. Jane Waldfogel & Susan Harkness & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Evaluating the pin money hypothesis: The relationship between women`s labour market activity, family income and poverty in Britain," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 137-158.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, octubre-d.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 299-351 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
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Cited by:
  1. Stefan Gravemeyer & Thomas Gries & Jinjun Xue, 2008. "Discrimination, Income Determination and Inequality – The case of Shenzhen," Working Papers CIE 16, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  2. Takashi Oshio & Kayo Nozaki & Miki Kobayashi, 2013. "Division of Household Labor and Marital Satisfaction in China, Japan, and Korea," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 211-223, June.
  3. Stefan Gravemeyer & Thomas Gries & Jinjun Xue, 2008. "Discrimination, Income Determination and Inequality – The case of Shenzhen," Working Papers 16, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.

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