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Control over Money in Marriage

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Abstract

The basic question addressed in this chapter is “Who gets what in a marriage?” I begin with the observation that any marriage involves two individuals, each of whom has their own experience of that marriage. The focus is on the economic outcomes experienced by each partner, and the influences on those outcomes. Which partner has greater control over the family’s finances? Which partner’s preferences are represented in family consumption decisions? Much of the current research on this issue, which uses family expenditure data, encounters a severe limitation: there are very few consumption items which can unambiguously be assigned to men, women or children. This paper answers the question “who gets what?” in a novel way. I use data on how families manage their finances, to find out who has access to, who manages and who controls the family finances. I also explore the determinants of financial control. Does an improvement in one spouse’s bargaining position lead to greater control over money, or is control over money simply party of the couple’s division of labor? The study is based on a new a survey of families with children in the Ottawa-Hull area carried out by the author. The paper begins with a survey of recent developments in the study of intra-household resource allocation. What do we know about how resources are allocated inside households? What do we know about why the pattern of household resources is as it is? I then go on to describe the data set used in the research, and the main empirical findings. I do not find a systematic pro-male or pro-female bias in household finances. However I do find that, as predicted by theory, partners with greater incomes have greater control over money, younger spouses do better, and there is less income pooling when one partner, especially the man, has been married before.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Carleton University, Department of Economics in its series Carleton Economic Papers with number 00-07.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: May 2000
Date of revision: 2003
Publication status: Published: Revised version in Marriage and the Economy: Theory and Evidence from Advanced Industrial Societies, ed. Shoshana A. Grossbard-Shechtman, Cambridge University Press, 2003, Ch. 5 (pp. 105–128)
Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:00-07

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Keywords: marriage; intra-household rsource allocation; family financial management;

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References

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  1. Phipps, S.A. & Burton, P.S., 1992. "What's Mine is Yours?: The Influence of Male and Female Incomes on Patterns of Household Expenditure," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive 92-12, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  2. Frances Woolley & Judith Marshall, 1992. "Measuring Inequality within the Household," Carleton Economic Papers 92-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Dec 1994.
  3. Apps,Patricia Savage,Elizabeth, 1987. "Labour supply,Welfare rankings and the measurement of inequality," Discussion Paper Serie A 152, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Zhiqi Chen & Frances Woolley, 1999. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Carleton Economic Papers 99-13, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2001.
  5. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  6. Shelley A. Phipps & Peter S. Burton, 1995. "Sharing within Families: Implications for the Measurement of Poverty among Individuals in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(1), pages 177-204, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Alistair Munro & Bereket Kebede & Vegard Iversen & Cecile Jackson & Arjan Verschoor, 2006. "What’s love got to do with it ? An experimental test of household models in East Uganda," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 06/01, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Feb 2006.
  2. Vegard Iversen & Cecile Jackson & Bereket Kebede & Alistair Munro & Arjan Verschoor, 2010. "Do spouses realise cooperative gains? Experimental evidence from rural Uganda," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 10-02, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  3. Kate H. Choi & Marta Tienda & Deborah Cobb-Clark & Mathias Sinning, 2011. "Immigration and Status Exchange in Australia and the United States," Ruhr Economic Papers 0261, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  4. Matthieu Delpierre, 2012. "The impact of liquidity constraints and imperfect commitment on migration decisions of offspring of rural households," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 153-170, March.
  5. Graziella Bertocchi & Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2012. "Is it money or brains? The determinants of intra-family decision power," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 083, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics.
  6. Angela Lyons & Urvi Neelakantan & Erik Scherpf, 2008. "Gender and Marital Differences in Wealth and Investment Decisions: Implications for Researchers, Financial Professionals, and Educators," NFI Working Papers 2008-WP-02, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.

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