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Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor

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  • Matthew J. Baker
  • Joyce P. Jacobsen

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2007. "Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 763-793.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:25:y:2007:p:763-793
    DOI: 10.1086/522907
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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