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Household Relational Contracts for Marriage, Fertility and Divorce

Author

Listed:
  • Matthias Fahn
  • Ray Rees

Abstract

This paper applies the theory of relational contracts to a model in which a couple decides whether to marry or cohabit, how many children to have and subsequently whether to stay together or separate. We make precise the idea that cooperation in a household can be supported by self interest. Since the costs of raising children are unequally distributed among partners, there is a potential conflict between individually optimal and efficient, i.e. surplus maximizing, decisions. Side-payments are used to support cooperation but are not legally enforceable and thus have to be part of an equilibrium. This requires a stable relationship and credible punishment threats. Within this relational contracts framework, we analyze the effects of policy variables such as rights of access to children post-separation and wealth division/alimony rules, as well as the legal costs of divorce, on the interrelationships among the decisions on marriage, fertility and divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Fahn & Ray Rees, 2011. "Household Relational Contracts for Marriage, Fertility and Divorce," CESifo Working Paper Series 3655, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3655
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3655.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Betsey Stevenson, 2007. "The Impact of Divorce Laws on Marriage-Specific Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 75-94.
    2. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    3. Schmidt, Klaus M. & Schnitzer, Monika, 1995. "The interaction of explicit and implicit contracts," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 193-199, May.
    4. Guven, Cahit & Senik, Claudia & Stichnoth, Holger, 2012. "You can’t be happier than your wife. Happiness gaps and divorce," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 110-130.
    5. Matthias Doepke, 2005. "Child mortality and fertility decline: Does the Barro-Becker model fit the facts?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 337-366, June.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2011. "Fertility and the Plough," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 499-503, May.
    7. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
    8. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521887878, November.
    9. 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 113-127, January.
    10. Kai A. Konrad & Kjell Erik Lommerud, 2000. "The bargaining family revisited," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 471-487, May.
    11. Rasul, Imran, 2008. "Household bargaining over fertility: Theory and evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 215-241, June.
    12. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia Apps & Yuri Andrienko & Ray Rees, 2012. "Risk and Saving in Two-Person Households: More Scope for Precautionary Saving," CEPR Discussion Papers 674, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    2. Matthias Fahn & Ray Rees & Amelie Wuppermann, 2016. "Relational contracts for household formation, fertility choice and separation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 421-455, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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