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Gender Discrimination and Effciency in Marriage: the Bargaining Family under Scrutiny

  • Helmut Rainer

    ()

This paper criticizes the view that discrimination limits the disadvantaged sex to undertaking housework and thus ensures that gains from specialization at the household level are not wasted. Our framework gives attention to causal links between labor market discrimination and the strategic behavior of women and men within families. We consider a repeated family bargaining model that links the topics of employment and households. A key aspect of the model is that marital bargaining power is determined endogenously: the amount of money a person earns - in comparison with a partner's income - establishes relative marital bargaining power. Gender discrimination can alter household behavior in surprising and sometimes unfortunate ways. We show that: (i) the effciency of household decisions is sometimes inversely related to the prevailing degree of gender discrimination in labor markets; (ii) discriminated against females have diffculty enforcing cooperative household outcomes since they may be extremely limited to credibly punish opportunistic behavior by their male partners; (iii) the likelihood that sharing rules such as "equal sharing" are maintained throughout a marriage relationship is highest when men and women face equal opportunities in labor markets. A key policy implication obtained from our analysis is that efforts to promote greater gender equality in labor markets can also contribute to increasing the likelihood of fully cooperative outcomes at the household level.

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Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 586.

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Date of creation: 15 Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:586
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  2. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
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  8. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2009. "Gender Discrimination, Human Capital and Marriage," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 61-76.
  9. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  10. Basu, Kaushik, 2001. "Gender and Say: A Model of Household Behavior with Endogenously-Determined Balance of Power," Working Papers 01-01, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
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  16. Bergmann, Barbara R, 1971. "The Effect on White Incomes of Discrimination in Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(2), pages 294-313, March-Apr.
  17. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2003. "A sticky floors model of promotion, pay, and gender," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 295-322, April.
  18. Cathal O’Donoghue & Holly Sutherland, 1998. "Accounting for the Family: The treatment of marriage and children in European income tax systems," Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series iopeps98/25, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  19. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
  20. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-45, December.
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  23. Konrad, Kai A & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1995. " Family Policy with Non-cooperative Families," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 581-601, December.
  24. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "A model of employment outcomes illustrating the effect of the structure of information on the level and distribution of income," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 10(3-4), pages 231-236.
  25. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
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