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Household behavior and social norms : a conjugal contract model

We present a model of household behavior to explore the complex interactions between the decision-making process within the household and social norms. The household is viewed as two separate spheres – the female and the male – both linked by a public good and a "conjugal contract" trough which spouses exchange resources. The conjugal contract negotiated within the couple is partly influenced by social norms given the conformism of individuals. Social norms are endogenously determined as the average conjugal contract. We find that the closer spouses' wages are in the labor market, the more equally they share household tasks. Wage policies promoting gender wage equality lead all couples to renegotiate the terms of their conjugal contract, which in turn changes social norms. Even though spouses aim at maximizing the household's welfare, the resulting equilibrium allocation is not Pareto efficient and inefficiency increases with social conformism.

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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne in its series Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne with number 09066.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:09066
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