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Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor

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  • Matthew J. Baker

    () (United States Naval Academy)

  • Joyce P. Jacobsen

    () (Wesleyan University)

Abstract

A customary gender division of labor is one in which women and men are directed towards certain tasks and/or explicitly prohibited from performing others. We offer an explanation as to why the gender division of labor is so often enforced by custom, and why customary gender divisions of labor generally involve both direction and prohibition. Our model builds on the literature on the marital hold-up problem, and considers both problems in choice of specialty and human capital acquisition in a framework in which agents learn a variety of skills and must search for a marriage partner on the marriage market. We show that wasteful behavior may emerge due to strategic incentives in career choice and human capital acquisition, and that both problems may be mitigated through the customary gender division of labor. We find, however, that a gender division of labor is not Pareto-improving; one gender is made worse off. Both the distributional effects and welfare gains to a customary gender division of labor decrease as opportunities to exchange in markets increase.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2003. "Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor," Departmental Working Papers 1, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:usn:usnawp:1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Shelly Lundberg, 2010. "The Changing Sexual Division of Labour," Chapters,in: The Shape of the Division of Labour, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Emir Kamenica & Jessica Pan, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 571-614.
    3. repec:rdg:wpaper:em-dp2011-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Auspurg, Katrin & Iacovou, Maria & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2014. "Housework Share between Partners: Experimental Evidence on Gender Identity," IZA Discussion Papers 8569, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Health Human Capital, Height and Wages in China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 466-484.
    6. Waka Cheung & Yew-Kwang Ng, 2011. "Gender Division of Labor and Alimony," Monash Economics Working Papers 17-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    7. Robert M. Solow & Jean-Philippe Touffut (ed.), 2010. "The Shape of the Division of Labour," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14184.
    8. Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2007. "A Human Capital-Based Theory of Postmarital Residence Rules," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 208-241, April.
    9. Pierre-André Chiappori & Murat Iyigun & Yoram Weiss, 2009. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1689-1713, December.
    10. repec:kap:jfamec:v:38:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10834-016-9507-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Domenico Tabasso, 2011. "With or Without You: Hazard of Divorce and Intra-household Allocation of Time," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2011n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    12. Bruze, Gustaf, 2010. "Male and Female Marriage Returns to Schooling," Working Papers 10-17, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    13. Keisuke Kawata & Mizuki Komura, 2015. "The Gender Division of Labor: A Joint Marriage and Job Search Model," IDEC DP2 Series 5-1, Hiroshima University, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC).
    14. Marina Della Giusta & Nigar Hashimzade & Sarah Jewell, 2011. "Why Care? Social Norms, Relative Income and the Supply of Unpaid Care," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2011-03, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    15. Niklas Jakobsson & Andreas Kotsadam, 2016. "Does marriage affect men’s labor market outcomes? A European perspective," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 373-389, June.
    16. Tabasso, D, 2009. "With or Without You: Time Use Complementarities and Divorce Rate in the US," Economics Discussion Papers 8937, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    17. Anne Solaz & François-Charles Wolff, 2015. "Intergenerational Correlation of Domestic Work : Does Gender Matter ?," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 117-118, pages 159-184.
    18. Lundberg, Shelly, 2005. "The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 1787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Iyigun, Murat, 2009. "Marriage, Cohabitation and Commitment," IZA Discussion Papers 4341, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    20. You, Jing & Yi, Xuejie & Chen, Meng, 2016. "Love, Life, and “Leftover Ladies” in Urban China," MPRA Paper 70494, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Tie-Ying Liu & Hsu-Ling Chang & Chi-Wei Su, 2017. "Why do People Get Married? An Inframarginal Perspective," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 1281-1295, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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