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Emancipation Through Education


  • Michelle Rendall

    (University of Zurich)

  • Fatih Guvenen

    (University of Minnesota)


This paper investigates the role of education in the evolution of women's role in the society---specifically, in the labor market and in the marriage market. In particular, it attempts to understand a set of socio-economic trends since the 1950s, such as (i) the falling marriage rate and the rising divorce rate, (ii) the rising educational attainment of women, which now exceeds that of men's (iii) the rising average earnings of women relative to men (i.e., the gender wage gap), and (iv) the substantial rise in the labor force participation (and labor supply) of married women. These trends have potentially profound effects on the society and raise several interesting questions to study. We build a plausible model with education, marriage/divorce, and labor supply decisions in which these different trends are intimately related to each other. We focus on education because divorce laws typically allow spouses to keep a much larger fraction of the returns from their human capital upon divorce compared to their physical assets, making education a good insurance against divorce risk. The proposed framework generates a number of powerful amplification mechanisms, which lead to large rises in divorce rates and college enrollment of women and a fall in marriage rates from relatively modest exogenous driving forces.

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle Rendall & Fatih Guvenen, 2012. "Emancipation Through Education," 2012 Meeting Papers 923, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:923

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    Cited by:

    1. Paula GOBBI, 2013. "Childcare and Commitment within Households," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Paula Gobbi, 2014. "Childcare and commitment within households," 2014 Meeting Papers 633, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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