IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor

  • Matthew J. Baker
  • Joyce P. Jacobsen

We consider 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. In our formal model, agents first learn skills and then enter the marriage market. We show that wasteful behavior may emerge due to strategic incentives in specialization choice and human capital acquisition and that both problems may be mitigated through a customary gender division of labor. This division is not Pareto improving. Both the distributional effects and welfare gains of a customary gender division of labor decrease as opportunities for market exchange increase.

If 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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 25 (2007)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 763-793

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:25:y:2007:p:763-793
DOI: 10.1086/522907
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Antonio Merlo & Cristina Echevarria, 1997. "Gender differences in education in a dynamic household bargaining model," Working Papers. Serie AD 1997-25, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. 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.
  3. Michael Peters & Aloysius Siow, 2000. "Competing Pre-marital Investments," Working Papers peters-00-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 1999. "Holdups and Efficiency with Search Frictions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 827-49, November.
  6. Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1991. "Investments, Hold Up and the Reform of Market Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9114, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  7. Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2005. "Women’S Labor Force Participation And The Dynamics Of Tradition," Labor and Demography 0507001, EconWPA.
  8. Clark, Simon & Kanbur, Ravi, 2004. "Stable partnerships, matching, and local public goods," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 905-925, August.
  9. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri, 2001. "The U.S. demographic transition," Working Paper 0118, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  11. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-87, June.
  12. Konrad, K.A. & Lommerud, K.E., 2000. "The Bargaining Family Revisited," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 212, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  13. Leonardo Felli & Kevin Roberts, 2000. "Does Competition Solve the Hold-Up Problem?," CESifo Working Paper Series 317, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1989. "Marital Division of Labor with Risk of Divorce: The Role of "Voice" Enforcement of Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 113-27, January.
  15. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, . "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments," Penn CARESS Working Papers 08d6793d32cab8f6e1f46dac0, Penn Economics Department.
  16. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, . "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments in Large Economies," CARESS Working Papres 00-05, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  17. 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.
  18. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  19. Daron Acemoglu, 1997. "Training and Innovation in an Imperfect Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 445-464.
  20. Hadfield, Gillian K., 1999. "A coordination model of the sexual division of labor," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 125-153, October.
  21. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
  22. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-94, October.
  23. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  24. Cole Harold Linh & Mailath George J. & Postlewaite Andrew, 2001. "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments in Finite Economies," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-34, March.
  25. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  26. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-37, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:25:y:2007:p:763-793. See general 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: (Journals Division)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.