Gender Equality through Household Action: The Next Step to Affirmative Action

29 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2017

Date Written: January 1, 2017


This paper investigates the implications of the unequal division of the domestic labor in men and women participation and incentives to exert effort in competitive relations, in which the labor market is the main example. We found that moderate levels of affirmative action (bias in favor of women) incentive men and women effort and women participation. However, it cannot guarantee full participation, equal welfare and equal effort among men and women without inducing economic inefficiency or even distorting the labor market. Given these limitations, we consider the effects of an alternative policy that supports men involvement in domestic tasks. The main conclusion is that if we want men and women to have the same opportunities in the labor market, we must solve the household problem first. While women hold a larger share of the domestic labor, they are in weaker position to compete against men. We expect that our findings will guide researchers and policy-makers in designing better policies towards full gender equality.

Keywords: Gender Equality; Affirmative Action; Household Action; Economic Efficiency; Women Participation

JEL Classification: J16; J78; D63; C72

Suggested Citation

Osório Costa, António Miguel, Gender Equality through Household Action: The Next Step to Affirmative Action (January 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

António Miguel Osório Costa (Contact Author)

Universitat Rovira i Virgili ( email )

Av. de la Universitat 1
Reus, Tarragona 43204
(+34)977759891 (Phone)


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