Saturday, February 17, 2007

Coerced voluntarily??

Summer holiday is close to end (in Australia summer starts from December to March). I’ve planned to spend holiday by doing some projects and, actually, I made commitments with my colleagues already. But, I found myself as a procrastinator. During the first-two months, I spent my time almost on fruitless works, not including time spent for traveling around Melbourne, Sydney and New South Wales. Nothing came up on my head at that time.

At present, I’m in Jakarta and back to my office, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Perhaps it’s a bit strange, I’m not a workaholic but I really enjoy spending my time at CSIS. Surely, there’re many reasons. One is the atmosphere. Well, the people are very informal (never think of us as very nerd people) but we, very often, think ‘trivial’ thing academically.

In addition to getting back “the atmosphere”, my visit to CSIS is also related to my research with Pasha. Pasha and I are doing research on Indonesia’s macroeconomic issues. We study the relationship between inflation and unemployment. It’s a classic study because, if you are an economist, you may familiar with this kind study, i.e. Phillips curve. Yet we are interested more in finding whether the Phillips curve really works in Indonesia and if so what the “true model” of augmented Philips curve is. From CSIS, I can get my stuffs (data, I mean).

I also have my own research. At the moment, I study the participation of married women in labor market. One of my research questions is how strong the magnitude of number of children on labor market variables, for example, wages.

I utilize two-stage least square (2SLS) by using instrumental variables because of endogeneity problems (I apologize for common readers if some issues in this topic are quite technical). I realize that the number of children is no longer exogenous. In fact, it is determined by the bargaining position of wife within household.

Studies on women, fertility and patriarchy society find that high fertility in male-dominated society is because of unequal power within household and males tend to pro-natalism (for example Nancy Folbre, Patriarchy and Fertility Decision. Feminist Studies vol 9 No 2, 1983).

Shortly, I want to test this hypothesis empirically as well. As I use National Socio-Economic Survey (SUSENAS) from Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), information regarding bargaining position, unfortunately, is not available. To solve the problem, I use age difference and years of schooling difference between husband and wife as proxies of bargaining power. These variables plus age at first marriage work as instrumental variables.

Early finding shows that the magnitude of children is higher in 2SLS than Ordinary Least Square (OLS). Indeed, specific OLS estimate suggests that children have no significant effect on wage (I think this is because of endogeneity problem resulting in high standard error). Correcting variance and standard error due to SUSENAS sampling design and endogeneity issues, 2SLS agrees with theory that children reduce married-woman wages. However, I still work on econometric issues and make sure I don’t make two types of error, which always become econometrician’s caveats.

But, what surprise me is the variable “the years of schooling difference between husband and wife” is no longer random variable. There is a pattern that low educated female tends to marry male who has relatively higher education than them. In other word, the educational difference is getting smaller as wife’s education is getting higher. If the pattern is consistent, there are, at least, many reasons but one serious implication.

One reason is that, as male is expected to be the head of household, female thinks that her potential husband should earn well-income. In the language of household economics, rational wife will maximize her expected utility of the expected income of their potential husband.

In other word, female, particularly low-educated female, seeks potential husband who potentially offers her a settled-living condition. It is truly sensible.

However if my variable, the gap in education between husband and wife, is a good indicator for describing bargaining power (bigger the gap, lower the wife’s bargaining power), this shows that low-educated female is likely to trade her bargaining power for material gain.

One serious implication from this fact is that, high fertility among low-educated female may be caused by forms of patriarchal oppression which are coercively pro-natal, as suggested by Nancy Folbre (1983). But, in fact, it happens voluntarily. Low-educated female is self-selected of being potentially coerced by their potential husband.

That is my presumptions and not final conclusions. Many works should be done before ending at good conclusions. However, it convinces me that I’m going back to Australia without an empty head.


pelantjong maja said...

about marriage women, be careful of the bias. dont let your personal emotion drives you to the conclusion.. hehehe.

Roby said...

maybe i missed something.
but from your description here, i don't see the evidence that there is voluntary pro-natal attitude.
i still see Nancy Folbre argument can still be applied.

how do you know that they are "self-selected of being potentially coerced by their potential husband"?

Anonymous said...

jadi ya... loe tahu kan gw penggemar bola... nah supaya gw bisa 'bikin' anak supaya bisa buat kesebelasan, istri gw mesti lulusan apa ya?? dari data2 loe bisa ketahuan ga tuh, satu tingkat 'lag' degree of education kira2 bisa beda berapa anak??


Yudo said...

My idea is based on some prepositions:

1. Education level represents bargaining power (the higher education level, the higher bargaining power)
2. The educational gap represents the inequality of bargaining power (the higher husband’s education relative to his wife, the stronger his bargaining power relative to his wife)
3. Some studies suggest that pro-natal attitude exists in male-dominated society (or because of the inequality of bargaining power within household).
4. a prospective wife is rational

My early estimate suggests that positive educational gap is positively associated with the number of children. (Positive educational gap means that the husband’s education level is higher than the wife’s education level)

We know that a prospective wife has two choices in marriage market, marrying a prospective husband who attains the same level of education or marrying a prospective husband who attains higher level of education. Here, a prospective wife is assumed to be rational and she knows gains and risks associated with each choice.

If the educational gap is random, there is supposedly no pattern between educational gap and wife’s education level. But there is a pattern. Low educated females tend to marry prospective husband with relatively high education and high-educated females do the opposite way. Regarding the gap, marriage market works in a pretty strange way here.

As in marriage market individuals seek and search their prospective spouses intentionally, the outcome is what econometricians call as “self-selected” which is different from random. Holding four prepositions above, I spot that low-educated wife is likely to be self-selected of being potentially coerced by their potential husband.

Oppression exists not only because of the oppressor but also because of the oppressed.

However, violation in, at least, one of my prepositions surely will reject my hypotheses.

Estimasi kasar, justru model ini memungkinkan kita melihat marginal effect tambahan 1 tahun sekolah terhadap tambahan anak :D

tirta said...

i'm having a hard time with the terminology of voluntary, self-selected, coercion. how would the data argue for coercion in the first place -- as opposed to collective decision?

Arya said...


From your reply to Roby:
"If the educational gap is random, there is supposedly no pattern between educational gap and wife’s education level. But there is a pattern. Low educated females tend to marry prospective husband with relatively high education and high-educated females do the opposite way."

This may be true. But it can be true for a very simple reason: If women try to find men with the highest education level that they can find, and there is a ceiling to highest level of male education (you can't really get a degree higher than a S2/S3), then the higher the women's education, the lower is the education gap.

berly said...

I am not convince that education gap is a good proxy for bargaining power gap.

A better proxy would be earning gap between husband and wife. But even if you can get the data it still a noisy signal/proxy for bargaining power.

In a perfect world we would have objective beauty index and cleopatara index. Beautiful woman is more in demand so they can get material security through high educated husband without having to get high degree themselves (to be or to get).

The second index should measure a woman's ability to influence husband decision regardless of income. Cleopatra managed to maneveur Julius Ceaser to put her into power by her beauty and intellegence (asterix fan would add nose). Even when Ceaser have overwhelming military force.

Have you done the Heckman regression for self selection bias? You should also try to run System-GMM that provide better estimation than 2SLS.

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