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Gender discrimination and efficiency in marriage: the bargaining family under scrutiny


  • Helmut Rainer



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. We show that: (1) the efficiency of household decisions is sometimes inversely related to the prevailing degree of gender discrimination in labor markets; (2) women who are discriminated against have difficulty enforcing cooperative household outcomes because they may be extremely limited to credibly punish opportunistic behavior by their male partners; (3) 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.
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Suggested Citation

  • Helmut Rainer, 2008. "Gender discrimination and efficiency in marriage: the bargaining family under scrutiny," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 305-329, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:21:y:2008:i:2:p:305-329
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-007-0143-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    2. Muthoo, Abhinay, 2004. "A model of the origins of basic property rights," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 288-312, November.
    3. Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
    4. Steinar Vagstad, 2001. "On private incentives to acquire household production skills," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 14(2), pages 301-312.
    5. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stephane Pallage, 2009. "Gender Discrimination, Human Capital and Marriage," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 61-76.
    6. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
    7. Kai A. Konrad & Kjell Erik Lommerud, 2000. "The bargaining family revisited," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 471-487, May.
    8. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, February.
    9. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
    10. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tatiana Damjanovic & Geethanjali Selvaretnam, 2015. "Economic Growth and Evolution of Gender Equality," Working Papers 2015_20, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    2. Jafarey, Saqib & Maiti, Dibyendu, 2015. "Glass slippers and glass ceilings: An analysis of marital anticipation and female education," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 45-61.
    3. Mizuki Komura, 2013. "Fertility and endogenous gender bargaining power," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 943-961, July.
    4. Anne-Kathrin Bronsert & Amihai Glazer & Kai A. Konrad, 2017. "Old money, the nouveaux riches and Brunhilde’s marriage strategy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 163-186, January.

    More about this item


    Gender discrimination; Family bargaining; Reputation; D13; J71; J82;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory


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