, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 509-534
Date: 01 Mar 2014

Birth Cohort and the Specialization Gap Between Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples

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Abstract

We examine differences in household specialization between same-sex and different-sex couples within and across three birth cohorts: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Using three measures of household specialization, we find that same-sex couples are less likely than their different-sex counterparts to exhibit a high degree of specialization. However, the “specialization gap” between same-sex and different-sex couples narrows across birth cohorts. These findings are indicative of a cohort effect. Our results are largely robust to the inclusion of a control for the presence of children and for subsets of couples with and without children. We provide three potential explanations for why the specialization gap narrows across cohorts. First, different-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts may have become more like same-sex couples in terms of household specialization. Second, social and legal changes may have prompted a greater degree of specialization within same-sex couples relative to different-sex couples. Last, the advent of reproductive technologies, which made having children easier for same-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts, could result in more specialization in such couples relative to different-sex couples.