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The family under the microscope: an experiment testing economic models of household choice

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  • Munro, Alistair
  • Bateman, Ian J.
  • McNally, Tara

Abstract

We devise and execute three experiments to test key features of models of household decision-making. Using established couples (married and unmarried) we test income pooling, unanimity and Pareto efficiency. Subjects make choices individually and jointly and are asked to make predictions about their partner’s choices. Unanimity is rejected. Income pooling is not rejected in joint choice but has less explanatory power in individual choice. In direct tests both sexes do not pool income completely, but in econometric tests across all tasks, women place an equal weight on payoffs but men discount their partner’s payoffs by between 15 and 20%. We find that transparency has little impact on deviations from income pooling or indeed on behaviour generally. Many joint choices deviate from the Pareto principle in a systematic manner suggesting that choices made as a couple are more risk averse than individual decisions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8974.

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Date of creation: 02 Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8974

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Keywords: experiment; household; unitary; income pooling; Pareto; family;

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References

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  1. Esther Duflo & Christopher Udry, 2004. "Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Cote d'Ivoire: Social Norms, Separate Accounts and Consumption Choices," NBER Working Papers 10498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alderman, Harold, et al, 1995. "Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Is It Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-19, February.
  3. Warr, Peter G., 1983. "The private provision of a public good is independent of the distribution of income," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 207-211.
  4. 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.
  5. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  6. Alderman, H. & Chiappori, P.A. & Haddad, L., 1994. "Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?," DELTA Working Papers 94-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-6, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  8. Ian Bateman & Alistair Munro, 2005. "An Experiment on Risky Choice Amongst Households," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C176-C189, 03.
  9. Doss, Cheryl R., 1996. "Testing among models of intrahousehold resource allocation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1597-1609, October.
  10. Chen, Zhiqi & Woolley, Frances, 2001. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 722-48, October.
  11. 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.
  12. Bolin, Kristian & Jacobson, Lena & Lindgren, Bjorn, 2002. "The family as the health producer--when spouses act strategically," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 475-495, May.
  13. Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
  14. 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.
  15. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Martinsson, Peter & Qin, Ping & Sutter, Matthias, 2009. "Household decision making and the influence of spouses’ income, education, and communist party membership: A field experiment in rural China," Working Papers in Economics 356, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Hélène Couprie & Miriam Beblo & Denis Beninger & François Cochard & Astrid Hopfensitz, 2012. "Equality-Efficiency Trade-off within French and German Couples – A Comparative Experimental Study," THEMA Working Papers 2012-44, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Bereket Kebede, 2011. "Intra-household efficiency: An experimental study from Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2011-01, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. André Palma & Nathalie Picard & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2011. "Individual and couple decision behavior under risk: evidence on the dynamics of power balance," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 45-64, January.
  5. Holden, Stein & Bezu, Sosina, 2014. "Are Wives less Selfish than their Husbands? Evidence from Hawk-Dove Game Field Experiments," CLTS Working Papers 3/14, Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
  6. Carlsson, Fredrik & He, Haoran & Martinsson, Peter & Qin, Ping & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Household Decision Making in Rural China: Using Experiments to Estimate the Influences of Spouses," IZA Discussion Papers 5127, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Alistair Munro & Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona-Gomez & Arjan Verschoor, 2011. "Autonomy or Efficiency. An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India," GRIPS Discussion Papers 10-33, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  8. 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..
  9. Miriam Beblo & Denis Beninger, 2012. "Do husbands and wives pool their incomes? Experimental evidence," Working Papers of BETA 2012-10, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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