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Gender Discrimination and Effciency in Marriage: the Bargaining Family under Scrutiny

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  • Helmut Rainer

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Abstract

This paper criticizes the view that discrimination limits the disadvantaged sex to undertaking housework and thus ensures that gains from specialization at the household level are not wasted. Our framework gives attention to causal links between labor market discrimination and the strategic behavior of women and men within families. We consider a repeated family bargaining model that links the topics of employment and households. A key aspect of the model is that marital bargaining power is determined endogenously: the amount of money a person earns - in comparison with a partner's income - establishes relative marital bargaining power. Gender discrimination can alter household behavior in surprising and sometimes unfortunate ways. We show that: (i) the effciency of household decisions is sometimes inversely related to the prevailing degree of gender discrimination in labor markets; (ii) discriminated against females have diffculty enforcing cooperative household outcomes since they may be extremely limited to credibly punish opportunistic behavior by their male partners; (iii) the likelihood that sharing rules such as "equal sharing" are maintained throughout a marriage relationship is highest when men and women face equal opportunities in labor markets. A key policy implication obtained from our analysis is that efforts to promote greater gender equality in labor markets can also contribute to increasing the likelihood of fully cooperative outcomes at the household level.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 586.

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Date of creation: 15 Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:586

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Cited by:
  1. Mizuki Komura, 2013. "Fertility and endogenous gender bargaining power," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 943-961, July.
  2. Sigve Tjøtta & Kjell Vaage, 2008. "Public transfers and marital dissolution," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 419-437, April.

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