This paper develops a theory of the gender wage gap. In a general equilibrium model, spouses devide their labor between a formal sector and a home sector. Due to indivisibility effects, productivity of labor in the formal sector is negatively related to labor used in the home; at the same time labor inputs are complementary in home production. We show that initial beliefs about the gender wage gap are self-fulfilling, and a central result is multiplicity of equilibria. Spouses allocate their labor equally, if they expect to earn the same wage rates, which ex post reinforces equal wage rates; whereas they allocate their labor differently, if they expect to earn different wage rates. The latter situation manifests itself in a gender wage gap. By use of numerical examples, we show that welfare is highest when spouses allocate labor equally. We relate this finding to policy recommendations.
gender wage gap household models household production labor markets