Rotten Husbands: The Determinants of Marriage in Spain

Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, Brown University

In contrast to predictions of comparative advantage or bargaining theories of the household, a higher female wage has not led to a more equalitarian division of housework within the household. This is particularly apparent in traditional societies such as Spain, where gender roles are strongly entrenched. This paper attributes the current low age-specific marriage rates among young Spanish cohorts to the prevailing gender norms no longer compatible with higher female education levels. This hypothesis is formalized in a model that follows Gary Becker's specification of the marriage market. I show that when the perfect contractibility assumption is relaxed the probability of marriage decreases and the man's share of housework is less responsive to the female wage. Implications of the model are tested using the ISSP 94 data. Preliminary results are consistent with the model: More egalitarian countries toward gender roles have higher marriage/cohabitation rates and more equal division of housework.

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Presented in Session 101: Family Exchanges