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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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File URL: http://www.essex.ac.uk/economics/discussion-papers/papers-text/dp586.pdf
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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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  1. Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
  2. Vagstad, S., 1999. "On Private Incentives to Acquire Household Production Skills," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 1499, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
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  7. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2001. "Efficiency in Marriage," NBER Working Papers 8642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Dessy, Sylvain & Pallage, Stéphane, 2003. "Gender Discrimination, Human Capital, and Marriage," Cahiers de recherche 0314, CIRPEE.
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  11. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Gender and Say A Model of Household Behavior with Endogenously-determined Balance of Power," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2054, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  13. A. Muthoo, 2002. "A Model of the Origins of Basic Property Rights," Economics Discussion Papers 546, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
  16. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, 02.
  17. 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.
  18. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1989. "How serious is the neglect of intrahousehold inequality ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 296, The World Bank.
  19. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  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. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1985. "Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-92, July.
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