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Agreeing on more than chicken soup: Intra-household decision-making and treatment for child psychopathology


  • Frederick Zimmerman



Using a large, U.S. dataset it is shown that children are more likely to receive needed mental health specialty treatment when women have greater decision-making power, as measured by an index of wife-favorable divorce laws and by the sex ratio at the time of marriage. Stratified analyses show that this effect is modified by the degree of marital conflict. Marriages characterized by high conflict conform more closely to the unified household model. The paper then presents a model of household decision-making consistent with these results that incorporates both objective determinants of bargaining power as well as the role of violent coercion in maintaining otherwise unsustainable equilibria. Implications for improving children’s access to mental health treatment are offered. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Frederick Zimmerman, 2006. "Agreeing on more than chicken soup: Intra-household decision-making and treatment for child psychopathology," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 229-252, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:4:y:2006:i:3:p:229-252
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-006-0007-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    2. Vermeulen, Frederic, 2002. " Collective Household Models: Principles and Main Results," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 533-564, September.
    3. Behrman, Jere R., 1993. "Intrahousehold distribution and the family," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 125-187 Elsevier.
    4. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
    5. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
    6. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    7. Agnes R. Quisumbing & John A. Maluccio, 2003. "Resources at Marriage and Intrahousehold Allocation: Evidence from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South Africa," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(3), pages 283-327, July.
    8. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana & Lemennicier, Bertrand, 2000. "Marriage contracts and the law-and-economics of marriage: an Austrian perspective," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 665-690, June.
    9. Folbre, Nancy, 1984. "Household Production in the Philippines: A Non-neoclassical Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 303-330, January.
    10. Phipps, Shelley A & Burton, Peter S, 1998. "What's Mine Is Yours? The Influence of Male and Female Incomes on Patterns of Household Expenditure," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(260), pages 599-613, November.
    11. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra, 1984. "A Theory of Allocation of Time in Markets for Labour and Marriage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 863-882, December.
    12. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    13. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1997:87:5:827-832_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marieka Klawitter, 2008. "The effects of sexual orientation and marital status on how couples hold their money," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 423-446, December.

    More about this item


    Intra-household decision-making; Mental health; Children; Health care demand; Domestic violence; I10; D10;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General


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