Marriage, Power and Wellbeing: Full Research Report


This project aimed to contribute to an improved understanding of intrahousehold relations in poor rural African communities for more effective poverty reduction and social justice, to test the economist Amartya Sen's cooperative conflict model of gender relations, and to produce advances in methodology by integrating qualitative ethnographic work with survey data and the results of experimental economics games.

Following a description of the methods used, the preliminary results are given in relation to the following research questions posed by the project:

  • What gender gaps are there in achieved wellbeing of spouses and how they are perceived?
  • What are the contributions, perceived and actual, of spouses to joint livelihoods?
  • How does household poverty relate to the individual power of women, and gender relations?
  • What patterns the bargaining power of spouses?
  • What do experimental games tell us about intrahousehold relations?
  • How far does the cooperative conflict model explain differential wellbeing outcomes and gender inequality in a rural African context?
  • What methods are most effective for studying gender relations within domestic groups?

Impacts and outputs of the project, capacity building and future research priorities are discussed.


ESRC End of Award Report, RES-167-25-0058, ESRC, Swindon, UK, 13 pp.

Marriage, Power and Wellbeing: Full Research Report

Published 1 January 2008