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To Honor and Obey: Efficiency, Inequality, and Patriarchal Property Rights

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  • Elissa Braunstein
  • Nancy Folbre

Abstract

In this paper we use the logic of contractual relationships within the family to explore how technological change, distributional struggle, and collective action can help explain the relationship between economic development, fertility decline, and the emergence of more egalitarian marriages. We draw on the historical context of Great Britain and the U.S. between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries to argue that the property rights afforded male household heads constituted a system of residual claimancy not unlike modern contractual relationships within the capitalist firm. Based upon these patriarchal property rights, we present a simple model of household decisions to allocate women's labor between productive and reproductive activities, comparing the outcomes of egalitarian and patriarchal governance and concluding that patriarchal governance may create incentives for men to force women to "overspecialize" in reproductive labor.

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  • Elissa Braunstein & Nancy Folbre, 2001. "To Honor and Obey: Efficiency, Inequality, and Patriarchal Property Rights," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 25-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:7:y:2001:i:1:p:25-44 DOI: 10.1080/713767276
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sol Invictus
      by Mike Isaacson in Vulgar Economics on 2015-04-06 20:17:00

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    Cited by:

    1. K. Powlick, 2009. "The Value of Advanced Interdisciplinary Classes for Students of Economics: Case Study of a 300-Level Class on Gender in the Economy," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, pages 189-200.
    2. Robert Fleck & F. Hanssen, 2009. "“Rulers ruled by women”: an economic analysis of the rise and fall of women’s rights in ancient Sparta," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 221-245, July.
    3. Stephanie Seguino, 2013. "From micro-level gender relations to the macro economy and back again," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 20, pages 325-344 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Scott Steele, 2002. "Gender-Based Advantage: A Model of Emerging and Constructed Opportunities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 77-97.
    5. Barbara E. Hopkins, 2013. "Gender and provisioning under different capitalisms," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 7, pages 93-112 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Elke Holst & Andrea Schäfer & Mechthild Schrooten, 2010. "Gender, Transnational Networks and Remittances: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1005, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Julie A. Nelson, 2016. "Male Is a Gender, Too: A Review of Why Gender Matters in Economics by Mukesh Eswaran," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1362-1376.

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