My take: couples with joint bank accounts don’t understand why other couples have separate accounts. Couples with joint bank accounts don’t understand why they would need a prenuptial agreement. Couples with separate accounts don’t understand why a couple wouldn’t have a pre-nup.
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.
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.
The main drivers of female occupational choice are supply-side (Chiswick 2006, 2007). This self-selection of females into occupations with more durable human capital, and into more general educations and more mobile training that allows women to change jobs more often and move in and out of the workforce at less cost to earning power and skills sets.
Chiswick (2006) and Becker (1985, 1993) then suggest that these supply side choices about education and careers are made against a background of a gendered division of labour and effort in the home, and in particular, in housework and the raising of children. These choices in turn reflect how individual preferences and social roles are formed and evolve in society.
These adaptations of women to the operation of the labour market, in turn, reflect a gendered division of labour and household effort in raising families and the accidents of birth as to who has these roles (Chiswick 2006, 2007; Becker 1981, 1985, 1993).
The market is operating fairly well in terms of rewarding what skills and talents people bring to it in light of a gendered division of labour and household effort and the accidents of birth. The issue is one of distributive justice about how these skills and family commitments are allocated and should be allocated outside the market between men and women when raising children. As in related areas such as racial and ethnic wage and employment gaps, these gaps are driven by differences in the skills and talents that people acquired prior to entering the labour market. …