Ugo Bolletta : ugo.bolletta2[at]unibo.it
Mathieu Faure : mathieu.faure[at]univ-amu.fr
Constraints that prevent women from working longer hours are argued to be important drivers of the persistent gender wage gap. In this paper, we study the impacts of relative working hours within households. We find that women's propensity to quit the labour force is higher in couples where the wife's working hours exceed the husband's. These relationships hold once we control for relative income within the household. In addition, women who work more than their husbands are more likely to be less satisfied with their married life, and are therefore more likely to divorce. By contrast, men are not affected by being in a relationship where women work longer hours than they do. We argue that these patterns are best explained by the division of household tasks within the household and less so by gender identity norms. We provide evidence that increasing the supply of substitutes for household production – proxied by U.S. state variation in the share of labour force in housekeeping jobs – helps alleviate this wife’s welfare loss in couples where the wife’s working hours exceed the husband’s.