Emma Zang- Duke University
Demography of Aging Seminar TITLE: Intra-Household Property Rights and Women's Well-Being: Evidence from the 2011 Chinese Divorce Reform ABSTRACT: This study examines the effect of intra-household property rights on women's and men's well-being. Most existing studies on household bargaining explored the consequences of legal changes expanding women's rights, but the consequences of policy changes eliminating women's rights are still unclear. The latter may not necessarily have the exact reverse consequences of the former, particularly in countries with strong gender stereotypes. This paper exploits the 2011 Chinese divorce reform which transfers ownership of the family home to the registered buyer, most often the husband, in the event of a divorce. Prior to this legal change, the family home was considered joint property. Results show gendered consequences of the 2011 Chinese divorce reform. Eliminating property rights decreases women's well-being and increases their market work hours, particularly for women with low social statuses. Gaining additional property rights increases men's well-being and the number of cigarettes consumed, although the effect is not immediate. The results for women with low social statuses are consistent with the prediction of the household bargaining model even after eliminating various alternative mechanisms.