Gender Asymmetry in Beliefs about Family Migration Decisions

Jui-Chung A. Li, RAND
Chieh-Yu Lee, Columbia University

Prior research found that when the husband receives a job offer that requires relocation, the wife is more likely to move with her husband. When the wife receives a job offer that requires relocation, however, she is more likely to give up on the opportunity and stay in the origin. Economists argue this gendered “tied-spouse” phenomenon reflects gender differential in earnings. In this paper, we examine lay people’s beliefs concerning family migration decisions in an experiment. We construct vignettes for fictitious couples in which either husband or wife receives a job offer that requires relocation. The respondents report what they think the fictitious couple would do. We find a gender asymmetry such that respondents are more likely to report the fictitious couple would move if the husband, rather than the wife, receives the job offer. We interpret this as experimental evidence against the economic theory because earnings are randomly assigned.

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Presented in Poster Session 3