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Journal Article

Household Behaviour and Social Norms: A Conjugal Contract Model with Conformism

Elisabeth Cudeville and Magali Recoules
Annals of Economics and Statistics
No. 117/118, SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE ECONOMICS OF GENDER (June 2015), pp. 279-312
Published by: GENES on behalf of ADRES
DOI: 10.15609/annaeconstat2009.117-118.279
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Page Count: 36
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Household Behaviour and Social Norms: A Conjugal Contract Model with Conformism
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This paper introduces conformism to a conjugal contract model, in order to explore the complex interactions between households' allocation decisions and conjugal social norms both of which are endogenously determined in the model. In couples, men and women are assumed to be relatively autonomous in the allocation of their resources, but linked through the production and the joint consumption of a domestic public good. Given that their relative market wages will generally differ, the husband and wife have an incentive to negotiate and agree upon an income sharing rule – a “conjugal contract” – in order to benefit from specialization gains. The model departs from the existing literature by introducing conformism to the bargaining process concerning the conjugal contract. Through the conformism of individuals, the conjugal social norm influences the marital behaviour of couples and the allocation of family resources. But the social norm itself results endogenously from the aggregation of couples' marital agreements. The model consistently explains some empirical evidence that challenges traditional economic models of the household, notably the fact that women still bear the bulk of domestic tasks, even when they are better paid than their partner in the labour market. The model shows that wage policies promoting gender wage equality may lead men and women to share household duties more equally, but that conformism reduces their efficiency. The model also consistently explains the fact that new economic developments – such as women's increased labour-force participation – contribute to the reshaping of social expectations about the roles of men and women in domestic and child-caring activities. JEL: D13, J16, J18, J22, J71. / KEY WORDS: Household Models, Social Norms, Conformism, Doing-Gender, Gender Inequalities.

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