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Inequality within Families
Friday, Jan. 7, 2022
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
American Economic Association
University of California-Santa Barbara
Marriage Market and Labor Market Sorting
We build a novel equilibrium model in which households’ labor supply choices form the link between sorting on the marriage market and sorting on the labor market. We first show that in theory, the nature of home production—whether partners’ hours are complements or substitutes—shapes marriage market sorting, labor market sorting and labor supply choices in equilibrium. We then estimate our model on German data to assess the nature of home production in the data, and find that spouses’ home hours are complements. We investigate to what extent complementarity in home hours drives sorting and inequality. We find that the home production complementarity—by strengthening positive marriage sorting and reducing the gender gap in hours and labor sorting—puts significant downward pressure on the gender wage gap and within-household income inequality, but it fuels between-household inequality. Our estimated model sheds new light on the sources of inequality in today’s Germany and—by identifying important shifts in home production technology towards more complementarity—on the evolution of inequality over time.
Dowries, Resource Allocation, and Poverty
We study the relationship between dowries -- wealth transfers from the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage -- and individual-level poverty in rural India. Based on the estimates of a collective household model, we show that the share of household consumption expenditure allocated to a woman is strongly associated with the dowry she paid at the time of her marriage. We compute poverty rates separately for women and men and find that women's poverty relative to men decreases with dowry. Moreover, women who paid dowries are less likely to be poor relative to women who did not, even when their households' consumption expenditures are the same. Our counterfactual policy analysis indicates that abolishing or reducing dowries (through anti-dowry laws or taxes, for example) may have the unintended effect of aggravating intra-household inequality and increasing women's risk of living in poverty after marriage.
The Effect of Violent Crime on Intra-household Resource Allocation and Bargaining Power
The effects of exposure to community violence are numerous and complex, and we should not expect them to be gender-neutral. This paper studies the effects of violent crime on household expenditures and intra-household bargaining power. I exploit an unexpected and geographically heterogenous increase in local violence in Mexico using a nationally representative longitudinal survey of married households formed prior to the increase in crime. I first estimate a household demand model and find that the escalation in violence reallocated household expenditures towards male goods, at the expense of food and other household necessities. These findings would typically be interpreted as a deterioration in women's bargaining power. But changes in local violence may have also affected consumption preferences. To show that the results can be explained by changes in bargaining power, I compute the effect of violence on intra-household resource shares within a structural setup that allows for violence to also affect preference parameters. The increase in violence also led the household members themselves to report decreases in female decision-making power. Finally, I discuss the evidence on the role played by fear of victimization limiting women’s outside options.
Brothers, Sisters, and Support to Older Parents: Separate Spheres Across and Within Support Types?
Sons have historically been more likely than daughters to provide support to older parents. Recent work has investigated whether this pattern has weakened in modern China. Left unexplored, however, is the notion that there may be separate "spheres" of giving, with support from sons and daughters valued differently depending on the type of support. In this study, we draw on data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study to examine the patterns of assistance from adult children to their parents and focus on differences in assistance by the child's gender and by the gender composition of siblings. We find that sons are much more likely to coreside with parents than daughters. While daughters are more likely to provide some financial transfers, conditional on providing transfers, sons provide larger amounts. We further find significant evidence that siblings crowd-out support but interestingly, that this crowd-out is primarily within gender: a daughter gives less when she has more sisters whereas a son gives less when he has more brothers. These results suggest that despite daughters helping to support their parents in modern China, the family continues to view support from sons and daughters differently.
University of Leuven
J1 - Demographic Economics