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New spouse, same chores? A panel analysis of marital specialization in consecutive unions

Collection : Documents de travail

217, 2015, 35 pages

This paper investigates domestic sphere investments of spouses in two consecutive relationships and aims to identify potential sources of variation. Economic reasoning would predict a learning effect from one partnership to the next, e.g., the anticipation of lost marital investments in case of separation, and hence less specialization in the domestic sphere in the second relationship. Prevailing gender norms or institutions, on the contrary, may prevent such adjustments in the division of housework. In a fixed-effects regression analysis, we compare time allocations of couples in the German Socio-Economic Panel whose members experienced two consecutive partnerships in the period of 1991-2012. Our results indicate that while women‘s and men‘s successive matches differ from each other, individual domestic investment patterns remain similar across unions. Only highly educated women with larger opportunity costs of housework specialization seem to conform to the economic rationale by reducing their marital investments significantly in their next partnership.

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