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To Honor and Obey: Efficiency, Inequality, and Patriarchal Property Rights

Elissa Braunstein () and Nancy Folbre

Feminist Economics, 2001, vol. 7, issue 1, 25-44

Abstract: In this paper we use the logic of contractual relationships within the family to explore how technological change, distributional struggle, and collective action can help explain the relationship between economic development, fertility decline, and the emergence of more egalitarian marriages. We draw on the historical context of Great Britain and the U.S. between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries to argue that the property rights afforded male household heads constituted a system of residual claimancy not unlike modern contractual relationships within the capitalist firm. Based upon these patriarchal property rights, we present a simple model of household decisions to allocate women's labor between productive and reproductive activities, comparing the outcomes of egalitarian and patriarchal governance and concluding that patriarchal governance may create incentives for men to force women to "overspecialize" in reproductive labor.

Keywords: Economics Of The Family; Residual Claimancy; Patriarchal Property Rights; Reproductive Labor; Family Law; Patriarchal Production (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001
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DOI: 10.1080/713767276

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