How do families make decisions? Who decides which children get
schooling? How is money from wages shared? Information about families
tends to be fragmentary: available only for small samples or for one
spouse or for the household as a whole. Such limited knowledge makes it
hard to come to reliable policy decisions that will promote the
well-being of specific parts of the household, such as women or
One goal of this research outlined in this technical report was to
develop new ways of getting information about how households make
decisions. At its heart were simple games played for real money to test
cooperation between husband and wives. Cooperating, meaning putting
money into the household pool, raised the cash paid to the household by
50%. We also carried out extensive interviews with our participants
about their household decision-making.
Working with local researchers, we went to eight low-income and mostly
rural communities in Ethiopia, India and Nigeria, selected to illustrate
a variety of marriage practices. We also included two large cities in
India and Ethiopia. In Nigeria some of our research was conducted
amongst polygamous families. The questionnaires (separate versions for
male and female participants) that were used to acquire the household
data are also appended here.
Husbands and wives rarely cooperated by putting all their money into the
household pool. In some locations individuals kept back the majority of
their money. Who had control over how the pool was divided made little
difference to cooperation, but when couples were required to work to
earn the money both men and women typically worked less when the man had
the final say on who got the money.
Verschoor, A.; Iversen, V.; Jackson, C.; Kebede, B.; Munro, A.; Rao, N. The intra-household allocation of resources: Cross-cultural tests, methodological innovations and policy implications. End of Award Report. (2012) 8 pp.