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Bargaining Power in Marriage: Earnings, Wage Rates and Household Production

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  • Robert A. Pollak

Abstract

What determines bargaining power in marriage? This paper argues that wage rates, not earnings, determine well-being at the threat point and, hence, determine bargaining power. Observed earnings at the bargaining equilibrium may differ from earnings at the threat point because hours allocated to market work at the bargaining solution may differ from hours allocated to market work at the threat point. In the divorce threat model, for example, a wife who does not work for pay while married might do so following a divorce; hence, her bargaining power would be related to her wage rate, not to her earnings while married. More generally, a spouse whose earnings are high because he or she chooses to allocate more hours to market work, and correspondingly less to household production and leisure, does not have more bargaining power. But a spouse whose earnings are high because of a high wage rate does have more bargaining power. Household production has received little attention in the family bargaining literature. The output of household production is analogous to earnings, and a spouse's productivity in household production is analogous to his or her wage rate. Thus, in a bargaining model with household production, a spouse's productivity in home production is a source of bargaining power.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11239.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11239

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  1. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-37, May.
  2. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
  3. Robert A. Pollak, 2002. "Gary Becker's Contributions to Family and Household Economics," NBER Working Papers 9232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2008. "Out of the Wallet and into the Purse: Using Micro Data to Test Income Pooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 325-351.
  5. Schultz, T.P., 1990. "Testing The Neoclassical Model Of Family Labor Supply And Fertility," Papers 601, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  7. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  8. Kalai, Ehud & Smorodinsky, Meir, 1975. "Other Solutions to Nash's Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 513-18, May.
  9. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  10. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
  11. Konrad, Kai A & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1996. "The Bargaining Family Revisited," CEPR Discussion Papers 1312, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Pollak, Robert, 2007. "Family Bargaining and Taxes: A Prolegomenon to the Analysis of Joint Taxation," IZA Discussion Papers 3109, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  14. 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.
  15. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  16. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  17. Pollak, Robert A, 1988. "Tied Transfers and Paternalistic Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 240-44, May.
  18. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  19. Saku Aura, 2002. "Uncommitted Couples: Some Efficiency and Policy Implications of Marital Bargaining," CESifo Working Paper Series 801, CESifo Group Munich.
  20. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  21. 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.
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