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Gender Identity, Co-Working Spouses and Relative Income within Households


  • Zinovyeva, Natalia

    () (Aalto University)

  • Tverdostup, Maryna

    () (University of Innsbruck)


Bertrand, Kamenica and Pan (2015) document that in the U.S. there is a sharp discontinuity to the right of 1/2 in the distribution of households according to the share of income earned by the wife, which they attribute to the existence of a gender identity norm postulating that a wife should earn less than her husband. We propose an alternative explanation for the existence of this discontinuity. We argue that any force that pushes some spouses towards equalizing their earnings, such as family businesses and co-working of spouses, creates a similar discontinuity. Using linked employer-employee data from Finland, we document the existence of a discontinuity of the same magnitude as in the U.S. and show that it can be fully explained by the earnings convergence of spouses who start working together. We also provide evidence suggesting that co-working spouses play an important role in explaining the discontinuity observed in the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • Zinovyeva, Natalia & Tverdostup, Maryna, 2018. "Gender Identity, Co-Working Spouses and Relative Income within Households," IZA Discussion Papers 11757, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11757

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. LaLumia, Sara, 2008. "The effects of joint taxation of married couples on labor supply and non-wage income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1698-1719, July.
    2. Parker, Simon C., 2008. "Entrepreneurship among married couples in the United States: A simultaneous probit approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 459-481, June.
    3. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin & Barbara Petrongolo, 2014. "Worktime Regulations and Spousal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 252-276, January.
    4. Stephens, Melvin Jr & Ward-Batts, Jennifer, 2004. "The impact of separate taxation on the intra-household allocation of assets: evidence from the UK," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1989-2007, August.
    5. Jarkko Harju & Tuomas Matikka, 2016. "Business owners and income-shifting: evidence from Finland," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 115-136, January.
    6. Hederos Eriksson, Karin & Stenberg, Anders, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households: Evidence from Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 9533, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anja Roth & Michaela Slotwinski, 2018. "Gender Norms and Income Misreporting within Households," CESifo Working Paper Series 7298, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Foster, Gigi & Stratton, Leslie S., 2018. "Does Female Breadwinning Make Partnerships Less Healthy or Less Stable?," IZA Discussion Papers 11938, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    co-working spouses; gender identity norms; spouses' relative earnings;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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