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Quality of Available Mates, Education and Intra-Household Bargaining Power

  • Sonia Oreffice

    (Clemson University)

  • Brighita Bercea

    (Clemson University)

This paper further explores the role of sex ratios on spouses’ bargaining power, by focusing on educational attainment in order to capture the qualitative aspect of mate availability. Using Census and Current Population Survey data for U.S. metropolitan areas in year 2000, a quality sex ratio is constructed by education brackets to test the effect on the intra-household bargaining power of couples in the corresponding education bracket. We argue that a relative shortage of suitably educated women in the spouse’s potential marriage market increases wives’ bargaining power in the household while it lowers their husbands’. Additionally, we test the prediction that this bargaining power effect is greater as the assortative mating order by education increases. We consider a collective labor supply household model, in which each spouse’s labor supply is negatively related to their level of bargaining power. We find that higher relative shortage of comparably educated women in the couple’s metropolitan area reduces wives’ labor supply and increases their husbands’. Also, the labor supply impact is stronger for couples in higher education groups. No such effects are found for unmarried individuals, which is consistent with bargaining theory.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2006.133.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2006.133
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  1. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  2. Weiss, Y. & Willis, R.J., 1995. "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," Papers 33-95, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  3. Josh Angrist, 2002. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage And Labor Markets? Evidence From America'S Second Generation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 997-1038, August.
  4. Zhenchao Qian, 1998. "Changes in assortative mating: The impact of age and education, 1970–1890," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 279-292, August.
  5. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2005. "Building the Family Nest: Pre-Marital Investments, Marriage Markets and Spousal Allocations," IZA Discussion Papers 1752, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 1998. "Household Labor Supply, Sharing Rule and the Marriage Market," Cahiers de recherche 9810, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  7. Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1997. "The Productivity Gains of Marriage: Effects of Spousal Education on Own Productivity across Market Sectors in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(3), pages 633-50, April.
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