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Marital Allocation Of Income Earning Responsibility, Job Shifts And Men's Wages

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RESEARCH QUESTION: The author is attempting to integrate studies of the marriage effect on men's wages to the literature on the division of labour within the household. Gorman wants to examine the link between marital status and men's wages. To focus her argument she makes it clear she will be looking at men's job shift patterns and how they relate to their earning capacities. The author makes her intent very clear early on in the article so the reader has a clear understanding of what she will be examining. She uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to test her hypotheses that married men pursue job shift patterns that increase their earning potential and steer away from job opportunities that would decrease their wages (Gorman, 1999:110).

PLAN OF ATTACK: The author begins be examining other studies in the field which, for the most part explain the wage differential as a result of the allocation of income earning responsibility in the household (Gorman, 1999:111). She refers to Becker's work on decision making in the household. He asserts that in all households there is a process by which members are assigned responsibility for income earning and household tasks which include the production of goods and services within the home (Gorman, 1999:110). Gorman contrasts this division of labour to single households where both forms of work must be completed by one individual. In a married household member's are able to assign time and energy to the forms of work that they are better abled to accomplish (Gorman, 1999:111). Becker asserts that rational couples will assign income earning mostly to the husband because he is able to earn higher wages and household production to the wife, for the same reason (Gorman, 1999:111). At this point in the article the author introduces different perspectives that frame her argument. The rational- choice view which can be seen as similar to Becker's model asserts that allocation of household tasks relates to the total amount of work that needs to be done within the household (Gorman, 1999:110). In the ideological perspective spouses are assigned different tasks that are based on their beliefs surrounding gender roles (Gorman, 1999:110). The power perspective is heavily reliant upon notions of power and asserts that the spouse with more power in the household dynamic is more likely to assign household tasks (Gorman, 1999:110). After identifying these viewpoints as a background on the subject she re asserts her intent to collect hard evidence of the relation between allocation of income, men's wages and job shift patterns.

RELEVANCE: The topic of this paper is directly relevant to many sociological issues. The wage differential between men and women is discussed and integrated into the study by relating it to household allocation of income earning. The division of labour within married households versus single households is also examined in relation to the allocation of income earning responsibility. By doing so the author is taking on gender issues, such as the difference in earnings between men and women and how this relates to the division of labour in married households. The study by Gorman incorporates several sociologically important issues surrounding gender and applies them to her research question.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE: In the review of the literature relating to the topic she focuses on three perspectives throughout the paper, which have been outlined earlier. The rational choice perspective, gender ideology perspective and the power perspective are examined in relation to the intent of the study. She extends all three perspectives to suggest that married men set higher earning goals for themselves than single men and subsequently earn more on average than single men (Gorman, 1999: 113). After outlining these perspectives and how they relate to the topic she applies her findings to job shift patterns. She identifies four different kinds of job shift patterns and discusses the implications of each.

In the review of the literature Gorman provides an adequate background of her topic and draws logical and comprehensible conclusions. The author does not identify shortcomings in the literature but rather only asserts what she wishes to investigate further in the article. This may be because the literature does not contain any gaps to fill in but rather provides a stable base on which she is able to extend their arguments and apply them to her specific research question. This may also reflect that she left out background information literature that does not support her hypotheses.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: As discussed above in the literature review the author focuses on three perspectives. The author outlines these theories of marital allocation of household responsibility and highlights the similarities and differences between them. She stresses the finding that all three perspectives agree that men in married households are likely to strive for higher earnings goals than single men (Gorman, 1999:112). She states her hypothesis clearly- proposing that men who are married are more aware than single men of job shifts that may result in increased earnings (Gorman, 1999:114). She also clearly establishes the definition of job shift patterns, of which there are four and the implications of each. She suspects that married men are less likely to quit without another job and also less likely to exhibit risky behaviours that may result in firing (Gorman, 1999: 114). She believes that men will have an advantage over single men in acquiring higher earnings during the process of job shifts (Gorman, 1999:114).

DATA AND METHODS: The data and methods used in this study are appropriate for testing the hypothesis. Although the author does not discuss the methods used in asking these questions, the reader becomes aware that this study may contain ethical implications for the participants. By asking these questions about the allocation of income earning responsibility the participants may question or doubt their method of allocating household income responsibility and therefore indirectly cause harm to the subjects (Babbie and Benaquisto, 2002: 25).

SAMPLE: The author clearly presents the source of the data and sample: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) conducted annually. The longitudinal survey is of individuals who were 14 to 22 years old in 1979 (Gorman, 1999: 114). The author includes all male participants in the survey for a complete sample size of 6403 men who were surveyed from 1979 through to 1992 (Gorman, 1999: 114). The decision of the author to perform a panel longitudinal study is integral to the studies' effectiveness. At first the study can be mistaken for a cohort because of the author's focus on a particular age group but because the study focuses on the same individuals over a period of time it is clear



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