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A Theoretical Analysis of the Effects of Legislation on Marriage, Fertility, Domestic Division of Labour, and the Education of Children

  • Alessandro Cigno

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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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2143.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2143
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  1. Maristella Botticini & Aloysius Siow, 1999. "Why Dowries?," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 95, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. Alícia Adserà, 2004. "Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 17-43, February.
  3. Kaushik Basu, 2006. "Gender and Say: a Model of Household Behaviour with Endogenously Determined Balance of Power," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 558-580, 04.
  4. Tomas Kögel, 2004. "Did the association between fertility and female employment within OECD countries really change its sign?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 45-65, February.
  5. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  6. Burda, Michael C. & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Weil, Philippe, 2006. "The Distribution of Total Work in the EU and US," IZA Discussion Papers 2270, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Michael Peters & Aloysius Siow, 2001. "Competing Premarital Investment," Working Papers peters-01-02, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  8. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-42, June.
  9. Junsen Zhang & William Chan, 1999. "Dowry and Wife's Welfare: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 786-808, August.
  10. Drago, Robert & Black, David & Wooden, Mark, 2004. "Female Breadwinner Families: Their Existence, Persistence and Sources," IZA Discussion Papers 1308, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
  12. Elena Stancanelli, 2007. "Marriage and Work: an analysis for French couples in the last decade," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2007-10, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  13. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
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