Division of Household Labor and Cross-Country Differences in Household Formation Rates
Almudena Sevilla Sanz
This paper explains the existing cross-country differences in household formation rates in industrialized countries by highlighting how an individual`s probability to form a household may be affected by social norms toward the household division of labor. Because social norms are to a large extent enforced through non-market interactions they are difficult to isolate empirically. Two identification strategies are proposed. First, a diff-in-diff like approach is used for the identification of the effect of social norms net of other country-specific and time varying factors. A second identification strategy uses an individual`s reported attitudes toward the household division of labor to allow for the identification of the effect of social norms net of individual preferences. Empirical results support the predictions of a household formation model where less egalitarian social norms decrease the supply of men in the household market by increasing a man`s cost of providing household labor. Both men and women living in more egalitarian countries have, everything else equal, a higher probability of forming a household. Furthermore, consistent with the theory, individual attitudes run opposite to social norms for the case of women. Whereas ceteris paribus a more egalitarian woman has a lower probability of forming a household, a woman living in a more egalitarian country has, everthing else equal, a higher probability of forming a household.
Household Formation, Marriage Markets, Division of Household Labor, Household Specialization, Social Norms
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