A new GLO Discussion Paper shows that the descendants of ancient farmers may have an interest in marrying among themselves, and thus maintaining the gendered division of labor, originally justified on comparative-advantage grounds by the advent of the plough.
The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 660, 2020
GLO Fellow Alessandro Cigno
Author Abstract: We show that the descendants of ancient farmers may have an interest in marrying among themselves, and thus maintaining the gendered division of labor, originally justified on comparative-advantage grounds by the advent of the plough, even after they emigrate to a modern industrial economy where individual productivity depends on education rather than physical characteristics. The result rests on the argument that, if efficiency requires the more productive spouse to specialize in raising income, and the less productive one in raising children, irrespective of gender, an efficient domestic equilibrium will be implemented by a costlessly enforceable pre-marital contract stipulating that the husband should do the former and the wife the latter. A contract may not be needed, however, if time spent with children gives direct utility, because an efficient equilibrium may then be characterized by little or no division of labor.
Featured image: georg-arthur-pflueger-0PL-g-9fxgs-unsplash
GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS, EconPapers). Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.