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Gender Identity and Relative Income Within Households

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  • Bertrand, Marianne
  • Kamenica, Emir
  • Pan, Jessica

Abstract

We examine causes and consequences of relative income within households. We show the distribution of the share of income earned by the wife exhibits a sharp drop to the right of 1/2, where the wife's income exceeds the husbands income. We argue that this pattern is best explained by gender identity norms, which induce an aversion to a situation where the wife earns more than her husband. We present evidence that this aversion also impacts marriage formation, the wife's labor force participation, the wife's income conditional on working, marriage satisfaction, likelihood of divorce, and the division of home production. Within marriage markets, when a randomly chosen woman becomes more likely to earn more than a randomly chosen man, marriage rates decline. In couples where the wife's potential income is likely to exceed the husband's, the wife is less likely to be in the labor force and earns less than her potential if she does work. In couples where the wife earns more than the husband, the wife spends more time on household chores; moreover, those couples are less satisfied with their marriage and are more likely to divorce. Those patterns hold both cross-sectionally and within couple over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertrand, Marianne & Kamenica, Emir & Pan, Jessica, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income Within Households," CEPR Discussion Papers 10443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10443
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender gap; gender roles; marriage market;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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