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

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  • Robert A. Pollak

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Pollak, 2011. "Allocating Time: Individuals' Technologies, Household Technology, Perfect Substitutes, and Specialization," NBER Working Papers 17529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17529
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    Cited by:

    1. McCann, Robert J. & Shi, Xianwen & Siow, Aloysius & Wolthoff, Ronald P., 2012. "Becker Meets Ricardo: Multisector Matching with Social and Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 6533, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Xianwen Shi & Ronald Wolthoff & Aloysius Siow & Robert McCann, 2012. "Becker meets Ricardo: A social and cognitive skills model of human capabilities," 2012 Meeting Papers 32, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Sunha Myong & JungJae Park & Junjian Yi, 2018. "Social Norms and Fertility," Working Papers 2018-064, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    4. Halldén, Karin & Stenberg, Anders, 2013. "The Relationship between Hours of Domestic Services and Female Earnings: Panel Register Data Evidence from a Reform," Working Paper Series 4/2013, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    5. Antonella Caiumi & Federico Perali, 2015. "Who bears the full cost of children? Evidence from a collective demand system," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 33-64, August.
    6. Robert A. Pollak, 2013. "Allocating Household Time: When Does Efficiency Imply Specialization?," NBER Working Papers 19178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Myong, Sunha & Park, JungJae & Yi, Junjian, 2018. "Social Norms and Fertility," IZA Discussion Papers 11744, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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