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Does Migration Empower Married Women?

Abstract:

Differences in gender-based labor market discrimination across countries imply that migration may affect husbands and wives differently. If migrant wives experience a relative improvement in their labor market position, bargaining theory suggests that they should experience comparatively larger gains. However, if renegotiation possibilities are limited by institutional mechanisms that achieve long-term commitment, the opposite may be true, particularly if women are specialized in household activities and the labor market allows more flexibility in their labor supply choices. Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel indeed shows that, as long as renegotiation opportunities are limited, comparatively better wages for migrant women lead them to bear the double burden of market and household work.