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Allocating Time: Individuals' Technologies, Household Technology, Perfect Substitutes, and Specialization

  • Robert A. Pollak

In an efficient household if the spouses' time inputs are perfect substitutes, then spouses will "specialize" regardless of their preferences and the governance structure. That is, both spouses will not allocate time to both household production and the market sector. The perfect substitutes assumption implies that spouses' "unilateral" production functions (i.e., the household production function when only one spouse allocates time to home production) are closely related, satisfying a highly restrictive condition that I call "compatibility." I introduce the "correspondence assumption," which postulates that the unilateral production functions in a newly formed household coincide with individuals' production functions before they enter marriage. The correspondence assumption provides a plausible account of the genesis of household technology and simplifies its estimation. I introduce the "additivity assumption" which postulates that the household production function is the sum of the spouses' unilateral production functions and argue that additivity is implicit in much of the new home economics. Together, the correspondence and additivity assumptions imply that individuals' technologies reveal the entire household technology. I show that perfect substitutes, additivity and concavity imply that the household production function is of the same form as the unilateral production functions, exhibits constant returns to scale, and depends on the spouses' total time inputs, measured in efficiency units.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17529.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Publication status: published as Robert A. POLLAK, 2012. "Allocating Time : Individuals' Technologies, Household Technology, Perfect Substitutes, and Specialization," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 105-106, pages 5.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17529
Note: LS
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  1. Liliana E. Pezzin & Robert A. Pollak & Barbara S. Schone, 2007. "Efficiency in Family Bargaining: Living Arrangements and Caregiving Decisions of Adult Children and Disabled Elderly Parents," CESifo Working Paper Series 1908, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-37, May.
  3. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
  4. 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 333-49, June.
  5. Griliches, Zvi, 1974. "Household and Economy: Toward a New Theory of Population and Economic Growth: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S219-S221, Part II, .
  6. Robert Pollak, 2003. "Gary Becker's Contributions to Family and Household Economics," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 111-141, January.
  7. 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.
  8. Nerlove, Marc, 1974. "Household and Economy: Toward a New Theory of Population and Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S200-S218, Part II, .
  9. Nancy Folbre, 1995. ""Holding hands at midnight": The paradox of caring labor," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 73-92.
  10. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  11. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  12. Szenberg, Michael & Ramrattan, Lall & Gottesman, Aron A. (ed.), 2006. "Samuelsonian Economics and the Twenty-First Century," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199298839, March.
  13. Janice Compton & Robert A. Pollak, 2009. "Proximity and Coresidence of Adult Children and their Parents: Description and Correlates," Working Papers wp215, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  14. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  15. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2007. "The American Family and Family Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 3-26, Spring.
  16. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  17. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  18. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  19. Robert A. Pollak, 2007. "Bargaining Around the Hearth," NBER Working Papers 13142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Oliver E. Williamson, 2002. "The Theory of the Firm as Governance Structure: From Choice to Contract," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 171-195, Summer.
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