Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment
AbstractWe ask whether women's decisions to be in the labor force may be affected by the decisions of other women in ways not captured by standard models. We develop a model that augments the simple neoclassical framework by introducing relative income concerns into women's (or families') utility functions. In this model, the entry of some women into paid employment can spur the entry of other women, independently of wage and income effects. This mechanism may help to explain why, over some periods, women's employment appeared to rise faster than could be accounted for by the simple neoclassical model. We test the model by asking whether women's decisions to seek paid employment depend on the employment decisions of other women with whom relative income comparisons might be important. In particular, we look at the effects of sisters' employment on women's own employment. We find strong evidence that women's employment decisions are positively related to their sisters' employment decisions. We also take account of the possibility that this positive relationship arises from heterogeneity across families in unobserved variables affecting the employment decision. We conduct numerous empirical analyses to reduce or eliminate this heterogeneity bias. We also look at the relationship between husbands' relative income and wives' employment decisions. In our view, the evidence is largely supportive of the relative income hypothesis.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5044.
Date of creation: Feb 1995
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 70, no. 1 (October 1998): 157-183.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
- D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
- J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.