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Whatever happened to the domestic division of labour? A theoretical analysis of the effects of legislation on marriage, fertility and participation

  • Alessandro Cigno


We derive the behavioural implications of legislation on the subject of marriage, divorce, de-facto unions, domestic violence, and labour market discrimination, within a game-theoretical frame- work. The predictions are consistent with two empirical obser- vations. One is that, while the prevalent pattern in development countries is for the father to specialize completely in market work, the tendency in developed countries is towards mother and father sharing market work and care of the children more or less equally between them. The other is that the sign of the cross-country correlation between fertility and female labour market participa- tion, negative worldwide until the mid-1970s, remains negative across developing countries, but has turned positive where devel- oped countries are concerned. We show that domestic division of labour is e¢ cient, while equal sharing is not. But we also argue that e¢ ciency is bought, in developing countries, at the expense of women, and discuss ways in which e¢ ciency could be restored in developed countries without setting the clock back.

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Paper provided by CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY in its series CHILD Working Papers with number wp09_08.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp09_08
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