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Autonomy and efficiency. An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India

Author

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  • Munro, Alistair
  • Kebede, Bereket
  • Tarazona-Gomez, Marcela
  • Verschoor, Arjan

Abstract

Dyson and Moore (1983) posit that women in South India enjoy relatively more agency than in the North. Their conclusions have become part of the standard picture of Indian rural society. In this paper, using experimental data we examine the implications of the regional contrast in female autonomy for the efficiency of family decision-making. With a sample of 1200 couples (one rural and one urban area in the North (Uttar Pradesh) and one rural area in the South (Tamil Nadu)), we find continuing significant differences between North and South in the nature of marital behaviour. In our experiments we see large-scale and robust evidence of inefficiency and hiding of assets when possible. Men invest more and are more generous to their partners. Women are more willing to invest in a common pool when their income is earned through working and when assets are publicly observable. There are differences between responses to treatment but the key and striking difference between the North and the South is that in both rural and urban sites in the North household efficiency is considerably greater than in the South.

Suggested Citation

  • Munro, Alistair & Kebede, Bereket & Tarazona-Gomez, Marcela & Verschoor, Arjan, 2014. "Autonomy and efficiency. An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 114-133.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jjieco:v:33:y:2014:i:c:p:114-133
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jjie.2013.10.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    2. Ian Bateman & Alistair Munro, 2005. "An Experiment on Risky Choice Amongst Households," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 176-189, March.
    3. Iversen, Vegard & Jackson, Cecile & Kebede, Bereket & Munro, Alistair & Verschoor, Arjan, 2011. "Do Spouses Realise Cooperative Gains? Experimental Evidence from Rural Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 569-578, April.
    4. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-1277, September.
    5. Shireen J. Jejeebhoy & Zeba A. Sathar, 2001. "Women's Autonomy in India and Pakistan: The Influence of Religion and Region," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(4), pages 687-712, December.
    6. Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona & Alistair Munro & Arjan Verschoor, 2014. "Intra-household Efficiency: An Experimental Study from Ethiopia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 23(1), pages 105-150.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lecoutere, Els & Jassogne, Laurence, 2016. ""We're in this together": Changing intra-household decision making for more cooperative smallholder farming," IOB Working Papers 2016.02, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
    2. Hoel, Jessica B. & Hidrobo, Melissa & Bernard, Tanguy & Ashour, Maha, 2017. "Productive inefficiency in dairy farming and cooperation between spouses: Evidence from Senegal:," IFPRI discussion papers 1698, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Charlotte Ringdal & Hoem Sjursen, 2017. "Household bargaining and spending on children: Experimental evidence from Tanzania," WIDER Working Paper Series 128, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Hoel, Jessica B., 2015. "Heterogeneous households: A within-subject test of asymmetric information between spouses in Kenya," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 123-135.
    5. Lecoutere, E., 2018. "Making spouses cooperate in rural Ugandan households Experimental evidence of distributional treatment effects," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277160, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Arjan Verschoor & Bereket Kebede & Alistair Munro & Marcela Tarazona, 2019. "Spousal Control and Efficiency of Intra-household Decision-Making: Experiments among Married Couples in India, Ethiopia and Nigeria," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 31(4), pages 1171-1196, September.
    7. Michele Tertilt & Matthias Doepke, 2015. "Asymmetric Information in Couples," 2015 Meeting Papers 606, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Mani, Subha, 2015. "Only Mine or All Ours: Do Stronger Entitlements Affect Altruistic Choices in the Household," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 363-375.
    9. repec:bla:jecsur:v:32:y:2018:i:1:p:134-175 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics experiment; India; Couples; Household efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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