A Human Capital-Based Theory of Postmarital Residence Rules

Posted: 17 Jun 2008

See all articles by Matthew J. Baker

Matthew J. Baker

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics

Joyce P. Jacobsen

Wesleyan University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2007

Abstract

In premodern societies, the residence of a newly wedded couple is often decided by custom. We formulate a theory of optimal postmarital residence rules based on contracting problems created by the nature of premarriage human capital investments. We argue that a fixed postmarital residence rule may mitigate a holdup problem by specifying marriage terms and limiting possibilities for renegotiation; the trade-off is that the rule may prohibit beneficial renegotiation of postmarital location. A point of interest of our approach is that the magnitude and direction of transfers accompanying marriage are endogenous. We apply our theoretical results to understanding cross-cultural postmarital residence patterns. We find some predictive ability in variables related to outside options, control over the environment, and potential degree of social control.

Suggested Citation

Baker, Matthew J. and Jacobsen, Joyce P., A Human Capital-Based Theory of Postmarital Residence Rules (April 2007). The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Vol. 23, Issue 1, pp. 208-241, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1146879 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jleo/ewm009

Matthew J. Baker (Contact Author)

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics ( email )

589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States
410-293-6890 (Phone)
410-293-6899 (Fax)

Joyce P. Jacobsen

Wesleyan University - Department of Economics ( email )

238 Church Street
Middletown, CT 06459-0007
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
454
PlumX Metrics