A gendered division of labour and household effort

A major factor driving the gendered division of labour and household effort is technology. Tiny differences in comparative advantage such as in child rearing immediately after birth can lead to large differences in specialisation in the market work and in market-related human capital and home production related work and household human capital (Becker 1985, 1993).

These specialisations are reinforced by learning by doing where large differences in market and household human capital emerge despite tiny differences at the outset (Becker 1985, 1993). This gendered division of labour and household effort is hard to change because large payments must be made to influence choices about care giving by highly specialised people with large but different accumulations of market and household human capital.

division of household leisure and shores

From a luck egalitarian perspective, many of the differences in earnings and occupations flow accidents of birth in deciding gender and who parents might be. Social inequalities that flow from brute bad luck call for interventions to put them right, if they work.

Many laws already make up for brute bad luck such as job protections while on maternity leave, and government funded parental leave pay and child care subsidies. Employers can do little to redress these accidents of birth nor do they have sufficient resources to put them right. For this reason, for example, parental leave pay is usually taxpayer funded rather than employer funded.


Speaking of the equality of the sexes


Source: David Meyer.

The gender commuting gap between mothers and fathers

The first three bars in each cluster of bars are for men. in almost all countries mothers with dependent children spend less time commuting than childless women. This might suggest that working mothers have found workplaces closer to home than women without children. The gender gap in commuting where it is present in the country is larger than the gap between mothers and other women in their commuting time.


Source: OECD Family Database – OECD, Table LMF2.6.A.

Is it merchandising that drives gender bias in Hollywood casting?

Iron Man 3 changed the gender of the film’s villain from female to male after pressure from the production company Marvel, which feared toy merchandise would not sell as well.

This is a rather frank admission of what drives gender bias in Hollywood casting decisions. Its customer preferences – customer discrimination. It was not nasty producers and directors choosing not to hire women.

It was producers and directors casting a movie that might sell at the box office given what the box office wants. The great majority of box office sales is outside of the USA and US cultural values, interests and concepts of humour.

Hollywood is a cutthroat market where producers and directors do do whatever it takes to make their movie sell at the box office. But would not last very long if they indulge their personal preferences at the expense of the box office.


Not every movie has the merchandising potential of action films but they still have to pay careful attention to what audiences want to avoid having produced a run of flops and never get financing again.

That is not made any easier by the first law of Hollywood economics, which is nobody knows nothing. Audiences have a constant demand for novelty but they do not know what they want delay see it.