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Bargaining Power in Marriage: Earnings, Wage Rates and Household Production

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  • Robert A. Pollak

Abstract

What determines bargaining power in marriage? This paper argues that wage rates, not earnings, determine well-being at the threat point and, hence, determine bargaining power. Observed earnings at the bargaining equilibrium may differ from earnings at the threat point because hours allocated to market work at the bargaining solution may differ from hours allocated to market work at the threat point. In the divorce threat model, for example, a wife who does not work for pay while married might do so following a divorce; hence, her bargaining power would be related to her wage rate, not to her earnings while married. More generally, a spouse whose earnings are high because he or she chooses to allocate more hours to market work, and correspondingly less to household production and leisure, does not have more bargaining power. But a spouse whose earnings are high because of a high wage rate does have more bargaining power. Household production has received little attention in the family bargaining literature. The output of household production is analogous to earnings, and a spouse's productivity in household production is analogous to his or her wage rate. Thus, in a bargaining model with household production, a spouse's productivity in home production is a source of bargaining power.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Pollak, 2005. "Bargaining Power in Marriage: Earnings, Wage Rates and Household Production," NBER Working Papers 11239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11239
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2008. "Out of the Wallet and into the Purse: Using Micro Data to Test Income Pooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 325-351.
    4. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
    5. Robert A. Pollak, 2011. "Family Bargaining and Taxes: A Prolegomenon to the Analysis of Joint Taxation ," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(2), pages 216-244, June.
    6. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-137, May.
    7. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    8. Paul A. Samuelson, 1956. "Social Indifference Curves," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-22.
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    10. 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.
    11. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    12. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
    13. Saku Aura, 2002. "Uncommitted Couples: Some Efficiency and Policy Implications of Marital Bargaining," CESifo Working Paper Series 801, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
    15. Pollak, Robert A, 1988. "Tied Transfers and Paternalistic Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 240-244, May.
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    18. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328-328.
    19. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
    20. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
    21. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-349, June.
    22. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
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    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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