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Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor

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  • Matthew J. Baker

    ()
    (Department of Economics, United States Naval Academy)

  • Joyce P. Jacobsen

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

Abstract

A customary gender division of labor is one in which women and men are directed towards certain tasks and/or explicitly prohibited from performing others. We offer an explanation as to why the gender division of labor is so often enforced by custom, and why customary gender divisions of labor generally involve both direction and prohibition. Our model builds on the literature on the marital hold-up problem, and considers both problems in choice of specialty and human capital acquisition in a framework in which agents learn a variety of skills and then enter the marriage market. We show that wasteful behavior may emerge due to strategic incentives in career choice and human capital acquisition, and that both problems may be mitigated through the customary gender division of labor. We find, however, that a gender division of labor is not Pareto-improving; one gender is made worse off. Both the distributional effects and welfare gains of a customary gender division of labor decrease as opportunities to exchange in markets increase.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wesleyan University, Department of Economics in its series Wesleyan Economics Working Papers with number 2005-001.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Journal of Labor Economics, October 2007, 25 (4): 763-793
Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2005-001

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Keywords: earnings inequality; income inequality; gender; race; and ethnicity differences;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Weiss, Yoram, 2006. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Anne Solaz & François-Charles Wolff, 2014. "Intergenerational correlation of domestic work: Does gender matter?," Working Papers 206, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
  3. repec:rdg:wpaper:em-dp2011-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2003. "A Human Capital-Based Theory of Post-Marital Residence Rules," Departmental Working Papers 2, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  5. Bruze, Gustaf, 2010. "Male and Female Marriage Returns to Schooling," Working Papers 10-17, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  6. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Health Human Capital, Height and Wages in China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 466-484.
  7. Iyigun, Murat, 2009. "Marriage, Cohabitation and Commitment," IZA Discussion Papers 4341, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Waka Cheung & Yew-Kwang Ng, 2011. "Gender Division of Labor and Alimony," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 17-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  9. Marina Della Giusta & Nigar Hashimzade & Sarah Jewell, 2011. "Why Care? Social Norms, Relative Income and the Supply of Unpaid Care," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2011-03, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  10. Domenico Tabasso, 2011. "With or Without You: Hazard of Divorce and Intra-household Allocation of Time," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2011n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  11. Domenico Tabasso, 2009. "With or Without You: Time Use Complementarities and Divorce Rate in the US," Economics Discussion Papers 674, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  12. Lundberg, Shelly, 2005. "The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 1787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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