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When Homemakers Are Compensated: The Effect of Homemaking Provisions on Spousal Time Allocation

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Many argue that the liberalization of divorce laws reduced the commitment value of marriage and thus discouraged the division of labor in a household. I examine how homemaking provisions in marital property law that recognize the contribution of homemakers in the division of marital properties at divorce affects spousal time allocation. Conceivably, such laws could increase the gendered division of labor in a household. I develop a noncooperative household model to analyze the effects of such provisions on spousal time allocation. The empirical findings provide support for the noncooperative household model, particularly under unilateral divorce regimes in which it is difficult for partners to make long-term commitments to each other. The results show that a unilateral divorce regime with a homemaking provision is associated with wives increasing their housework and reducing their market labor.

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