Efficiency versus gender roles and stereotypes: an experiment in domestic production

  • Hélène Couprie
  • Elisabeth CudevilleEmail author
  • Catherine Sofer
Original Paper


Empirical studies cast doubt on the efficiency assumption made in standard economic models of household behavior. In couples, the allocation of time between activities remains highly differentiated by gender. In this paper we examine whether couples deviate from efficiency in household production, using an experimental design. We compare the allocation of gendered vs. gender-neutral domestic tasks. Our results show that women in the household overspecialize in “feminine tasks” and men in “masculine tasks” compared to what their comparative advantage would require, hence revealing the influence of gender roles and stereotypes on the couples’ behavior.


Social norms Stereotypes Gender roles Household models Gender inequalities 

JEL Classification

D13 J16 J22 C91 C92 



We thank P. Apps, M. Boltz, P-A Chiappori, the participants of the June 2014 Workshop “Economics of Gender” in Nice, as well as the anonymous referees and the editor, who kindly helped us to greatly improved the present paper. We also thank all the experimenters who helped us in running this experiment. Financial support from the French National Research Agency (ANR “Ginhdila”) is gratefully acknowledged. All errors remain ours.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cergy-PontoiseCergy-Pontoise CedexFrance
  2. 2.CESUniversity of Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance
  3. 3.CES-PSEUniversity of Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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