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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.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 923.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:923
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu, 2010. "A Quantitative Analysis of the Evolution of the U.S. Wage Distribution, 1970-2000," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2009, Volume 24, pages 227-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Greenwood, Jeremy & Guner, Nezih & Kocharkov, Georgi & Santos, Cezar, 2015. "Technology and the Changing Family: A Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 8831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus Brawn: The Realization of Women's Comparative Advantage," 2010 Meeting Papers 926, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Gianluca Violante, 2013. "Education policy and intergenerational transfers in equilibrium," IFS Working Papers W13/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," CEPR Discussion Papers 6144, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. González, Libertad & Viitanen, Tarja K., 2009. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 127-138, February.
  7. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, December.
  8. Goldin, Claudia & Kuziemko, Ilyana & Katz, Lawrence, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Scholarly Articles 2962611, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Alejandrina Salcedo & Todd Schoellman & Michèle Tertilt, 2009. "Families as Roommates: Changes in U.S. Household Size from 1850 to 2000," NBER Working Papers 15477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Giovanni L. Violante & Costas Meghir & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2008. "Equilibrium Effects of Education Policies: a Quantitative Evaluation," 2008 Meeting Papers 868, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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