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Theoretical Implications for Marriage



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4 Theoretical Implications for Marriage The general theory of marriage based on price theory that was presented in Chapter 3 can be applied to the study of a variety of aspects of marriage This chapter develops some hypotheses regarding incidence of marriage and divorce consensual unions distribution of power in the house hold and incidence of dowry and bride wealth It also summarizes other hypotheses regarding divorce intermarriage and polygamy that are developed elsewhere in the book This chapter starts by summarizing the theoretical framework found in the previous chapter The theory is then extended in ways amenable to the study of various aspects of marriage The compensation for spousal labor the quasi wage w is decomposed into components capturing various aspects of marriage In the discussion found at the end of this chapter one can find a partial comparison between this theory of marriage and two alternative theories widely used by social scientists who engage in the study of marriage resource theory and sociobiological theory This market theory of marriage is an expansion of labor economics It views wives and husbands as performing a variety of labor services for each other in the framework of marriage or sexual cohabitation we temporarily ignore formal and ceremonial distinctions The term spousal labor is used to include any task people perform for the benefit of a spouse or partner Adapted from A Market Theory of Marriage and Spouse Selection a paper presented in absentia at the Meetings of the P opulation Association of America Washington DC March 1981 I would like to thank Deborah Blackwell Nancy Chodorow Kingsley Davis David Heer Adam Kuper and Yohanan P eres for their comments and the National Science Foundation for their financial support BNS 76 22943 to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and beyond their own needs Examples of such tasks include childbearing child rearing household chores or spouse counseling The exact composition



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