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Does Female Empowerment Promote Economic Development?

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  • Matthias Doepke

    ()
    (Northwestern University)

  • Michele Tertilt

    (Universität Mannheim)

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that money in the hands of mothers (as opposed to fathers) increases expenditures on children. From this, should we infer that targeting transfers to women is good economic policy? In this paper, we develop a non-cooperative model of household decision making to answer this question. We show that when women have lower wages than men, they may spend more on children, even when they have exactly the same preferences as their husbands. However, this does not necessarily mean that giving money to women is a good development policy. We show that depending on the nature of the production function, targeting transfers to women may be beneficial or harmful to growth. In particular, such transfers are more likely to be beneficial when human capital, rather than physical capital or land, is the most important factor of production.

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Paper provided by Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group in its series Working Papers with number 2014-002.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2014-002

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Keywords: Female Empowerment; Gender Equality; Economic Development; Theory of the Household; Marital Bargaining;

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Blog mentions

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  1. Transfers to mothers may hurt children
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-05-19 14:39:00
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Cited by:
  1. Adida, Claire L. & Laitin, David D. & Valfort, Marie-Anne, 2012. "Gender, Economic Development and Islam: A Perspective from France," IZA Discussion Papers 6421, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Elisabetta Lodigiani & Sara Salomone, 2012. "Migration-Induced Transfers of Norms. The Case of Femal Political Empowerment," Development Working Papers 343, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 13 Nov 2012.
  3. Alger, Ingela & Cox, Donald, 2012. "The Evolution of Altruistic Preferences: Mothers versus Fathers," IDEI Working Papers 758, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised May 2013.
  4. Michèle Tertilt, 2012. "The Research Agenda: Michèle Tertilt on Gender in Macroeconomics," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), November.
  5. van de Walle, Dominique, 2011. "Lasting welfare effects of widowhood in a poor country," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5734, The World Bank.
  6. van de Walle, Dominique, 2013. "Lasting Welfare Effects of Widowhood in Mali," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1-19.
  7. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.
  8. World Bank, 2011. "Work and Family : Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12489, The World Bank.
  9. Anderson, C. Leigh & Reynolds, Travis William & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2012. "Spousal Accord and the Costs of Household Decision-making in Tanzania and Mali," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 125018, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  10. Gerritzen, Berit C., 2014. "Intra-Household Bargaining Power and HIV Prevention: Empirical Evidence from Married Couples in Rural Malawi," Economics Working Paper Series 1408, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  11. Christopher Ksoll, Janny Aker, Danielle Miller, Karla C. Perez-Mendoza, and Susan L. Smalley, 2014. "Learning without Teachers? A Randomized Experiment of a Mobile Phone-Based Adult Education Program in Los Angeles - Working Paper 368," Working Papers 368, Center for Global Development.

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