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What if women earned more than their spouse? An experimental investigation of work division in couples

Author

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  • Francois Cochard

    () (CRESE - Centre de REcherches sur les Stratégies Economiques (EA 3190) - UBFC - Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté [COMUE] - UFC - Université de Franche-Comté, LCE - Laboratoire Chrono-environnement - UFC (UMR 6249) - UBFC - Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté [COMUE] - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UFC - Université de Franche-Comté)

  • Hélène Couprie

    (THEMA - Théorie économique, modélisation et applications - UCP - Université de Cergy Pontoise - Université Paris-Seine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Astrid Hopfensitz

    (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - Toulouse School of Economics)

Abstract

Female specialization on household work and male specialization on labor-market work is a widely observed phenomenon across time and countries. Gender differences regarding characteristics (preferences, productivity) and context (wage rates, social norms) are generally recognized to explain this fact. We experimentally investigate work division by true co-habiting couples participating in a newly developed specialization task. Efficiency in this task comes at the cost of inequality, giving higher earnings to the "advantaged" player. We compare behavior when men (or women) are in the advantaged position, which correspond to the traditional (or power) couple case where he (or she) earns more. We show that women do not contribute more than men to the household public good whatever the situation. This result allows us to rule-out some of the standard explanations of the work division puzzle.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois Cochard & Hélène Couprie & Astrid Hopfensitz, 2015. "What if women earned more than their spouse? An experimental investigation of work division in couples," Working Papers hal-01376912, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-01376912
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01376912
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    Cited by:

    1. Melanie Schröder & Norma Burow, 2016. "Couple's Labor Supply, Taxes, and the Division of Housework in a Gender-Neutral Lab," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1593, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experiment on couples; Time allocation; Work division;

    JEL classification:

    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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