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Are better off households more unequal or less unequal ?

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  • Haddad, Lawrence
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Abstract

In many parts of the world, resources within a household are apparently not distributed according to need. Using a model of intrahousehold bargaining, this paper first tries to answer the question: As households become better off, does intrahousehold inequality increase or decrease? It finds that under certain conditions intrahousehold inequality first increases and then decreases. The debate on intrahousehold inequality is entwined with policy questions about the efficacy of targeting individual disadvantaged members of a household, as opposed to poor households in general. The paper found that anintrahousehold bargaining view tends to support targeting to disadvantaged members of the household, because of bargaining power effects. The bargaining framework also gives support for the concern that some observers have expressed about the impact of structural adjustment on intra-household inequality. When cash crops are predominantly under male control and food crops are primarily a female preserve, improving the relative price of cash crops can worsen intrahousehold inequality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 373.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 1990
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:373

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Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Poverty Lines; Inequality; Safety Nets and Transfers; Services&Transfers to Poor;

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  1. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  2. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1989. "How serious is the neglect of intrahousehold inequality ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 296, The World Bank.
  3. Sutton, John, 1986. "Non-cooperative Bargaining Theory: An Introduction," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 709-24, October.
  4. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
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