A Theoretical Analysis of the Effects of Legislation on Marriage, Fertility, Domestic Division of Labour, and the Education of Children
Decisions concerning marriage, fertility, participation, and the education of children are explained using a two-stage game-theoretical model. The paper examines the effects of (i) family law (cost of obtaining a divorce, alimony, availability of quasi-marriages such as PACS in France, and civil partnership in the UK), (ii) legislation concerning the assignment of property rights over total goods and assets acquired within marriage, (iii) enforceability of bride-price contracts, and (iv) length and effective enforcement of compulsory education. The predictions are consistent with two empirical observations. One is that, the tendency in developed countries is towards mother and father sharing market work and the care of the children equally between them, while the predominant pattern in developing countries is for the father to specialize in market work leaving the care of the children to the mother. The other is that the sign of the cross-country correlation between fertility and female labour market participation, negative until the mid-1970s, has turned positive where developed, but not developing countries are concerned since that date. The model provides a gender-neutral explanation of why girls in developing countries tend to get less education than boys of the same educational ability, and of why a substantial minority of women in some developed countries work and earn more than their male partners. We also derive and discuss the implications of a number of normative propositions.
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