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 children.
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.