October 2008

IZA DP No. 3773: Institutions, Social Norms, and Bargaining Power: An Analysis of Individual Leisure Time in Couple Households

published in: Review of Economics of the Household, 2010, 8 (3), 325-343

We exploit time use data from Denmark and the United States to examine the impact institutions and social norms have on individuals' bargaining power within a household, hypothesizing that the more generous social welfare system and more egalitarian social norms in Denmark will mitigate the impact standard economic power measures have upon couples' time use. Further we posit that leisure time will be more sensitive to power considerations than housework time which may be more influenced by preferences regarding household public goods, to gendered notions of time use, and to censoring. Our results are generally supportive of these hypotheses, with leisure time on non-work days in the US being particularly responsive to economic power. In addition, we find some evidence that institutions matter as women in the US who are more likely to receive welfare benefits enjoy more leisure time than would be suggested by their economic power alone.