Intra-Household Decision-Making and Women

Early economic theory traditionally treated the household as a single unit. In these unitary models of the household all members have the same utility function and so have the same preferences. There is no bargaining process and hence there is no correlation between household expenditures, financial outcomes and who makes the household decisions. In the non-unitary models of the household, it is assumed that each household member has a different utility function and therefore has different preferences. A bargaining process takes place within the household and decisions are made according to each member’s bargaining power. The outcome of these bargaining processes  varies depending on who makes the decision. 

This edition of the newsletter compiles readings on gender asymmetries in intra-household decision making, and how this affects outcomes for women. 

Additionally, the newsletter contains information on jobs shared by Women in Econ & Policy members over WhatsApp. This edition also contains work by fellow members. We hope to continue highlighting work by the fantastic women in our community - make sure to check it out, and share your work with us for future editions.
Gender Asymmetries in Intra-household decision making
Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines: Nava Ashraf elicits causal effects of spousal observability and communication on financial choices of married individuals in the Philippines. When choices are private, men put money into their personal accounts. When choices are observable, men commit money to consumption for their own benefit. When required to communicate, men put money into their wives' account. These strong treatment effects on men, but not women, appear related more to control than to gender: men whose wives control household savings respond more strongly to the treatment and women whose husbands control savings exhibit the same response. 

Read the paper here.

Intra-Household Bargaining and Decision-Making, Social Norms and Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from a Global Investment in Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A learning brief by the International Council for Research on Women compiling findings from multiple studies funded by the Women and Girls at the Center for Development (WGCD) initiative through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The studies focus on evaluating gendered aspects of  intrahousehold bargaining and decision-making or chart empowerment outcomes using changes in decision making. 

Read the brief here
Are Movers More Egalitarian than Stayers? An Intergenerational Perspective on Intra-Household Financial Decision-Making : This study seeks to investigate the role of international migration in shaping the financial decision-making behaviors of married couples through a comparison of three generations of Turkish migrants to Europe (i.e., movers) with their counterparts who remained in Turkey (i.e., stayers). The data are drawn from a subset of personal data from the 2000 Families Survey, involving 4,215 interviews performed randomly with married individuals nested within 1,713 families.

Read the paper here

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Measuring decision-making power in the household

Is it time to rethink how we measure women’s household decision-making power in impact evaluations? : This blog post by Rachel Glennester and Claire Walsh looks at how some of the most common survey questions for measuring women’s participation in household decision-making are not specific or time-bound, and how evaluations need to change how they measure household decision-making power of women.
Context and measurement: An analysis of the relationship between intrahousehold decision making and autonomy: The authors explore several measurement concepts around standard decision-making indicators using case studies from two distinct locales: Bangladesh and Ghana. In particular, they utilize a measure of relative autonomy-a construction used primarily in psychology that measures the extent to which actions are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated --to calibrate decision-making. They are interested in knowing whether men and women who report sole decision-making in a particular domain, experience stronger or weaker feelings of autonomous motivation, compared to those who report joint decision-making.

Read the paper here.

Recommendations for Measuring Intra-Household Power and Decision Making : Prepared by the UNECE Task Force on Measuring Intra-household Power and Decision-making, this reference is a guide for countries looking to embark on research on the gendered aspect of intra-household decision making. 

Bargaining power and outcomes for women

His, Hers, or Ours: Impacts of a Training and Asset Transfer Programme on Intra-Household Decision-Making in Zambia: This paper studies the effects of a multifaceted asset transfer programme on the decision-making dynamics of smallholder households. Constructing separate indexes of participation in household decision-making for adult females and males using difference-in-differences to assess the impact of livestock transfer and training to evaluate whether these interventions increase the share of decisions in which individuals participate.

Read the paper here.

Why Are Older Women Missing in India? The Age Profile of Bargaining Power and Poverty: Almost half of missing women in India are of post-reproductive ages. The author shows that intra-household gender inequality and gender asymmetry in poverty can account for a substantial fraction of these missing women. Using a natural experiment, she links women's intra-household bargaining power to their mortality risk and finds that bargaining power declines with age, and that women's relative poverty rates closely match their higher than expected mortality rates by age.

Read the paper here.

Bargaining Breakdown: Intra-Household Decision-Making and Female Labor Supply: The authors outline a model of household decision-making where households choose whether or not to bargain.

Bargaining is costly, and information about the household’s choice set may be asymmetric. In this model, spouses may withhold information to manipulate the choice set and may avoid bargaining to prevent certain outcomes from being realized. They test the model in the context of female labor supply in India. Spousal preferences are misaligned: wives are significantly more supportive of women’s employment than their husbands.

Read the paper here.

Intrahousehold Bargaining, Female Autonomy, and Labor Supply: Theory and Evidence from India: The authors propose an alternative noncooperative household model of labour supply in which a woman’s unearned income improves her autonomy within the household, which raises her gains from working and can increase her labor supply.

They find empirical support for this model, using women’s exposure to the Hindu Succession Act in India as a source of exogenous variation in their unearned income. They show that policies that empower women can have an additional impact on the labor market, which can further reinforce autonomy increases.

Read the paper here.

Work by members

What does it take to decongest Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable market? : Shivani Gupta writes about the Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, India. Read her article here

Aditi Bhowmick writes about results from a survey of 4000 HHs across 6 Indian states (5 of the poorest) in March, May & July 2020 that suggest modest recovery after unlock but persistent unemployment (40% in July vs. 18% pre lockdown). Read the article here. The data from the survey can be downloaded for free - Round 1 data is here, and Round 2 data is here. You can reach out to her if you have questions about the data.

Ishita Kirti writes about the impact of economic policy uncertainty on investment in India (here) and Smart Metering and Discoms in India (here) .
A Case for Safe Drinking Water in Boosting Infant Nutrition in India:
Dweepobotee Brahma summarises a recently published paper on the link between safe drinking water and child nutrition in this blog. You can read more of her research on her website here.

The Dynamics and Spillovers of Management Interventions: Evidence from the Training Within Industry Program: Michela Giorcelli and Nicola Bianchi's paper examines the long-term and spillover effects of management interventions on firm performance. Under the Training Within Industry (TWI) program, the U.S. government provided management training to firms involved in war production between 1940 and 1945. Using a newly collected panel dataset on all 11,575 U.S. firms that applied to the program, they find that the TWI training had positive and long-lasting effects on firm performance and the adoption of beneficial managerial practices. Read the paper here.

Climate Change Disclosure Among California Enterprise Issuers: This report, written by
Kelly Joy,  offers a snapshot of how climate risk has been incorporated into disclosure practices in California’s municipal market. Read the report here.

Maanya Kalra writes about the need for feminism (here), the 1947 Partition of India (here) and Imaging the world a hundred years from now (here).She also puts together graphics on social behavioural change on the Instagram Page of Hasrat (here)

Ria Kasliwal writes about Demand-Inducing Stimulus as Covid19 Response (here) and Gender and the Gig Economy (here). The brief on demand-inducing stimulus explains the plausibility of financing a demand-inducing stimulus using debt monetisation as a one-time policy measure. The brief on gender and the gig economy examines the existing literature on the problems faced by women gig workers and analyses the terms of use and privacy policy for a few platforms in India that cater to women gig workers.

COVID-19 Impact on Daily Life (CIDL) Survey: Niyati Agrawal summarises results from the CIDL survey, and compares findings with results from other studies. Read the research brief here. Niyati has also written a research brief on how portfolios of Indian households differ across states, using CMIE consumer pyramids. Read the brief here

Rituparna Sanyal measures the inequality of opportunity among children in Bangladesh, along the dimensions of education, health, infrastructure and documentation services. She uses the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey for the years 2011 and 2015 to compute the Human Opportunity Index (HOI) and comments on the significance of the scale and distribution effects in the changes in HOI between the two years. She finds that the overall opportunity index stood at 64 per cent in 2015. Read the paper here.


Note: These are jobs shared by members over WhatsApp over the last 2 weeks. Please check if positions are still open before applying
1.Evidence for Policy Action (EPoD) India  is looking for a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (more information here), a Data Scientist (more information here) and a Research Associate to be based out of Patna, Bihar (more information here
2. Sensing Local Foundation is undertaking a 4-month intensive exercise for 'Assessment of the Air Quality Ecosystem in India', in order to understand the ongoing efforts, identify gaps, roadblocks, and opportunities. They are looking  for Senior and Junior Researchers with degrees and experience in environmental fields. More information here
3. Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)  is looking to hire data scientists, and analysts/senior analysts based out of New Delhi for its COVID-19. The job description for the data scientist role is here, and the job description for the analyst role is here. Interested candidates may share their CVs at 
4. Read last week's Policy Opportunities Update hereThis week there are positions listed in typical policy hubs like DC, New Delhi and Brussels, as well as openings in cities such as Melbourne and Stockholm. There are also a couple of special remote internship programs, including a rare research placement based in Fiji. As per usual, several tanks are advertising more than one vacancy, so make sure to search the site thoroughly and apply to all positions of interest.
5. Profesor Ram Singh at the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) is looking to hire a Research Assitant: Emolument will depend on the experience and workload. The candidate should be MA in Economics and must have a prior experience with Data analysis and Empirical research.2-4 years of work experience. More information on how to apply here.
6. Migration and Asylum Project (MAP) is  launching a project that seeks to fuel a transformative change in the current service delivery approaches by developing a remote and mobile Sexual and Gender Based Violence case management system, create a network of empowered barefoot advocates, and promote the integration of migrant/refugee women into the mainstream legal and justice delivery mechanisms. MAP is currently looking to recruit three consultants to manage and implement this program. More information on open roles and how to apply is here
7. The office of Economist Devaki Jain is looking to hire an Associate for a period of two years. Candidates must have an MPhil degree. More information here.
8. Pratham Education Foundation's Digital Team is looking to hire an Associate. The job description can be found here.
9. RA position under Deniz Igan, Division Chief at International Monetary Fund:
Looking for a short-term Research Assistant, offering a 6-month contract, to start as soon as possible. The position would be a good fit for a PhD/masters economics student with strong empirical skills and, ideally, interest in sovereign debt and banking issues. If interested, apply at
10.  Apply for The Martí i Franquès COFUND Doctoral Fellowships Programme (MFP) in Spain here
11. Professors Farzana Afridi and Kanika Mahajan are looking to hire a Research Assistant. More information can be found here.
Have thoughts on our sixth newsletter, or ideas for other activities we should consider? Follow us on Twitter, shoot us an email or fill out this feedback form! We’d love to hear from you and work on what we can do better!
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