Winner takes it all: Economics of Marriage

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“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

In our society, marriage is often portrayed as a union of love and affection between two individuals. It is romanticized as the foundation of a lifelong partnership and the beginning of a new chapter filled with shared dreams and aspirations. While these notions hold true to a certain extent, it is essential to recognize that marriage is not solely a romantic avenue but also an economic institution.

Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker argued that marriage was based on the principle of division of labour.

However, this division is often based on the bargaining power the parties to a marriage possess.

Indian cinema, over the years, has been an excellent canvas, portraying the subtle, implicit, and sometimes overt negotiations within marriage.

We take a look at some such examples and consider the economics of marriage.

click on images to read. 

Mahanagar (1963)

Mahanagar (1963)

Tumhari Sulu (2017)

Tumhari Sulu 2017

Thappad (2020)

Thappad, 2020

The Great Indian Kitchen (2021)

The assets created within a family result from the work done in and outside it. Therefore, the institution of marriage assumes a role that extends beyond romantic inclinations, transcending into economic collaboration. It operates as a union that amalgamates affection and financial resources, eliciting a division of labour hinged upon the intricate interplay of bargaining powers.

The marital unit becomes an arena where the unquantifiable aspects of love and companionship converge with the tangible forces of financial cooperation.

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