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What’s love got to do with it ? An experimental test of household models in East Uganda

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Abstract

We test core theories of the household using variants of a public good game and experimental data from 240 couples in rural Uganda. Spouses do not maximise surplus from cooperation and realise a greater surplus when women are in charge. This violates assumptions of unitary and cooperative models. When women control the common account, they receive less than when men control it; this contradicts standard bargaining models. Women contribute less than men and are rewarded more generously by men than vice versa. This casts doubt on postulates in Sen (1990). While the absence of altruism is rejected, we find evidence for opportunism. The results are put in a socioeconomic context using quantitative and qualitative survey data. Assortative matching and correlates of bargaining power influence behaviour within the experiments. Our findings suggest that a ‘one-size fits all’ model of the household is unlikely to be satisfactory.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London in its series Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics with number 06/01.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision: Feb 2006
Handle: RePEc:hol:holodi:0601

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Keywords: experiment; household theories; Uganda; unitary model; cooperative model;

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  1. Farmer, Amy & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1995. "Fairness concepts and the intrahousehold allocation of resources," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-189, August.
  2. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
  3. Ligon, Ethan, 2002. "Dynamic bargaining in households (with application to Bangladesh)," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt1t52k4c5, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
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  6. Ligon, Ethan, 2002. "Dynamic bargaining in households (with an application to Bangladesh)," CUDARE Working Paper Series 972, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  7. Corfman, Kim P & Lehmann, Donald R, 1987. " Models of Cooperative Group Decision-Making and Relative Influence: An Experimental Investigation of Family Purchase Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 1-13, June.
  8. Martin Browning & P.A. Chiappori, 1996. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations - A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Discussion Papers 96-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  9. Steven J. Humphrey & Arjan Verschoor, 2004. "Decision-making Under Risk among Small Farmers in East Uganda," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 13(1), pages 44-101, March.
  10. Frances Woolley, 2000. "Control over Money in Marriage," Carleton Economic Papers 00-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  11. Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994. "Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-96, December.
  12. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer & Anja Kurki, 2004. "Modeling Other-Regarding Preferences and an Experimental Test," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 91-117, 04.
  13. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1984. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 521-22, June.
  14. 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.
  15. Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-46, October.
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