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A Human Capital-Based Theory of Post Marital Residence Rules

  • Matthew J. Baker

    ()

    (United States Naval Academy)

  • Joyce P. Jacobsen

    ()

    (Economics Department, Wesleyan University)

In pre-modern societies the residence of a newly-wedded couple is often decided by custom. We formulate a theory of optimal post-marital residence rules based on contracting problems created by the nature of pre-marriage human capital investments. We argue that a fixed post-marital residence rule may mitigate a hold-up problem by specifying marriage terms and limiting possibilities for renegotiation; the trade-off is that the rule may prohibit beneficial renegotiation of post-marital location. A point of interest of our approach is that the magnitude and direction of transfers accompanying marriage are endogenous. We apply our theoretical results to understanding cross-cultural post-marital residence patters. We find some predictive ability in variables related to outside options, control over the environment, and potential degree of social control.

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File URL: http://repec.wesleyan.edu/pdf/jjacobsen/2005006_jacobsen.pdf
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Paper provided by Wesleyan University, Department of Economics in its series Wesleyan Economics Working Papers with number 2005-006.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, April 2007, 23 (1): 208-241
Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2005-006
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Web page: http://www.wesleyan.edu/econ/

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  1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Stark, Oded, 1987. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Bulletins 7515, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  2. Matthew J. Baker & Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2007. "Marriage, Specialization, and the Gender Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 763-793.
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  9. Baker, Matthew & Miceli, Thomas J., 2005. "Land inheritance rules: theory and cross-cultural analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 77-102, January.
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  13. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
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  19. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1995. "Option contracts and renegotiation: A solution to the Hold-Up Problem," Munich Reprints in Economics 19329, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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