Multiple equilibria of couple specialization

Gosta Esping-Andersen, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Diederik Boertien, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Jens Bonke, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit
Pablo Gracia, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

We apply a multiple equilibrium approach to couple specialization in Denmark, Britain, and Spain, three countries that represent very different stages in the revolution of women's roles. On the basis of time use data, we identify both efficient and equitable specialization behaviour within a traditional, gender egalitarian and unstable equilibrium. We find that Pareto optimal specialization is evident in only a fraction of all households. Our estimations of efficiency is consistent with most research since a large share of the population does not specialize in accordance with assumed rational choice criteria. Our analyses of equity yield surprising results, particularly for Denmark, since we find widespread inequity that in the vast majority of cases reflects that women are advantaged. We conclude tentatively that non-Paretian specialization is most likely to occur when the old traditional equilibrium is decaying while an egalitarian rival has not yet become consolidated.

  See paper

Presented in Session 66: Work-family balance in Europe