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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
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:923
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  1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2015. "Technology and the Changing Family: a Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce Educational Attainment and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," Working Papers 808, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 2602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Libertad González Luna & Tarja K. Viitanen, 2006. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," Economics Working Papers 986, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus brawn: the realization of women's comparative advantage," IEW - Working Papers 491, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. 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.
  6. Giovanni L. Violante & Costas Meghir & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2008. "Equilibrium Effects of Education Policies: a Quantitative Evaluation," 2008 Meeting Papers 868, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Michele Tertilt, 2009. "Families as Roommates: Changes in U.S. Household Size from 1850 to 2000," Discussion Papers 09-001, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, December.
  9. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 12139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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