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Rethinking Specialization and the Sexual Division of Labor in the 21st Century

Peter Siminski () and Rhiannon Yetsenga ()
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Rhiannon Yetsenga: University of Technology Sydney

No 2020/04, Working Paper Series from Economics Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney

Abstract: We show that comparative advantage plays little or no role in explaining the sexual division of labor. Instead, gender norms are the likely explanation. Using direct measures of within-couple specialization, we find that absolute advantage in market work has little (no) role in the time allocations of heterosexual (same-sex) couples. Sex-based specialization is much greater. We then test the predictions of a formal Beckerian model of comparative advantage. A woman would need to be 109 times more productive in market work than her male partner before reaching expected parity in domestic work, and this is likely biased downwards.

Pages: 60 pages
Date: 2020-06-01
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