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Oh Francis, you romantic you;

Does this model explain the persistent difference in pay between men and women? I can see 3 groups of people:
1) A sub-group of men who will go to extreme lengths to out-earn comparable women in order to attract a woman (or two);
2) Another sub-group of men who can't compete with comparable women and consequently drop out of both the labour and marriage markets;
3) A sub-group of women who basically "dial it back" so as to secure a relationship with a man.

All 3 will cause the average wage for men to exceed the average for women. But what does the data say? How big are the effects? How big are these groups? Are there other groups?


Brad, interesting comment. Some of the overall gender gap is due to a few people, who are mostly men, vastly out-earning everyone else - your (1). But they don't really pop out in the data I could find here http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2013347-eng.pdf or Tammy Schirle's work here. On group 2 - there's always this http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/07/what-are-young-men-doing.html.

But basically because there's lots of different sub-marriage markets, and a lot of the action in the marriage market is happening when people are in their 20s and 30s when earnings are changing rapidly, it's hard to say definitely one way or the other.

Possibly the problem is me, but I think this an important matter which the writing makes ridiculously hard to understand. I am quickly left uncaring about the answer to the question asked, and when I read carefully I lose a sense of why I am reading. At least a meaningful introduction...

(I really do want to follow your argument.)

I think you may be underweighing the impact of the recent third option of staying single while still being able to have the occasional sex through hook-up apps.

I'm all for seeing a good Canadian economist explore the question of household formation and duration, because I think it is pretty clear that Canada is approaching a crisis, whose onset will probably be more rapid, and consequences more catastrophic, than is so far appreciated.

At the same time, I think the Baby Boom strongly suggests that this is a problem that can solve itself, given the right fiscal/monetary framework, without heroic gender politics heavy-lifting. Money may not solve every problem, but it seems like the z axis in the graphs. (I know that comparing marriage stability amongst securely-employed, unionised grocery store employees with perpetual adjuncts is enlightening.) It would be nice if we could solve the problem of declining household formation rates through progress in gender politics; but, at the very least, it should not be our entire reliance. And I guess I've loaded the dice with the "heroic" and the "heavy lifting" parts.

Sigh. Well, if we can win by turning Adolf Hitler into a newt, we should. But while research into crumbling grimoires should continue, we need to accept that we're going to have to assault Juno Beach.

Erik: "I think the Baby Boom strongly suggests that this is a problem that can solve itself, given the right fiscal/monetary framework"

Which is harder: transforming gender relations, or creating an economic environment where people can have a family, and at the same time maintain a decent life-style and work-life balance?

This isn't a rhetorical question, I really don't know the answer. But I'm not convinced that creating the right fiscal/monetary framework is in fact easier.

> A study done a while back by Bittman, England, Sayer, Folbre and Matheson found that husbands who were out-earned by their wives actually did less work around the house than husbands who had similar to, or slightly greater earnings, than their partners

Did this study control for spousal health? Given the relatively low fraction of heterosexual couples where wives significantly out-earn husbands, this group might be overly affected by disability – a disabled husband would be expected to be both low-earning and low-housework. Disabilities of husbands and wives would occur about evenly (a priori), but since "man earns more" is the more popular option the disability signal would be weaker.

> Which is harder: transforming gender relations, or creating an economic environment where people can have a family, and at the same time maintain a decent life-style and work-life balance?

Are these even entirely separate? One anecdotal issue with Japan is that poor gender relations cause a poor work-life balance, as men are expected to live at the office and be cared for by their wives. This is made worse with the economic reality of two-income lifestyles, as women who work are still expected to do essentially all of the household work as well; this pushes women towards the fall-back position of remaining single.

Majromax: "Did this study control for spousal health?"

I'm not sure that it did, and I agree - this is a concern.

I was listening to a talk on time use this morning by Maria Floro - she was citing recent work that seemed to confirm that household spending responds to changes in fall-back positions, the amount of time people spend in various household chores seems to be much less responsive to household bargaining, and more responsive to gender norms. That isn't exactly the Bittman et al result however.

Another factor to consider is the compatibility of average jobs with parenting chores.

If I, as a gender neutral person, am expected to work from 08:00h to 18:00h, + commute, do overtime and socialising, there is no way in hell I'm going to get the kids to and from school, do the laundry, shop, cook, clean, fill out the tax return, do the garden, participate in committee work, keep fit, organise a family vacation, control homework, etc. as well. So the default option for households with kids is a division of labour.

And once that option is on the table, the division will, barring very strong financial or other arguments, fall along traditional gender lines.

IMO, the best way to encourage gender equality in paid and unpaid work is to make the average work day compatible with shared parenting. E.g. beginning with an option for a shorter work day or at least more part time work and affordable all day schools for kids of all ages.

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