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What if women earned more than their spouses? An experimental investigation of work-division in couples

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  • François Cochard

    () (Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté)

  • Hélène Couprie

    () (Université de Cergy-Pontoise (THEMA))

  • Astrid Hopfensitz

    () (University of Toulouse Capitole)

Abstract

Abstract Female specialization on household work and male specialization on labor-market work is a widely observed phenomenon across time and countries. This absence of gender neutrality with respect to work-division is known as the “work-division puzzle”. Gender differences regarding characteristics (preferences, productivity) and context (wage rates, social norms) are generally recognized as competing explanations for this fact. We experimentally control for context and productivity to investigate preferences for work-division by true co-habiting couples, in a newly developed specialization task. Efficiency in this task comes at the cost of inequality, giving higher earnings to the “advantaged” player. We compare behavior when men (or women) are in the advantaged position, which corresponds to the traditional (or power) couple case where he (or she) earns more. Women and men contribute equally to the household public good in all conditions. This result allows us to rule out some of the standard explanations of the work-division puzzle.

Suggested Citation

  • François Cochard & Hélène Couprie & Astrid Hopfensitz, 2018. "What if women earned more than their spouses? An experimental investigation of work-division in couples," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(1), pages 50-71, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9524-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-017-9524-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Melanie Schröder & Norma Burow, 2016. "Couple's Labor Supply, Taxes, and the Division of Housework in a Gender-Neutral Lab," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1593, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experiment on couples; Time allocation; Work-division;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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