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Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Is It Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?


  • Alderman, Harold, et al


Most development objectives focus on the well-being of individuals. Policies are targeted to increase the percentage of individuals who avoid poverty, who can read, who are free from hunger and illness, or who can find gainful employment. Individual welfare, however, is based in large part on a complex set of interactions among family members. Until recently most policy analyses implicitly viewed the household as having only one set of preferences. This assumption has been a powerful tool for understanding household behavior, such as the distribution of tasks and goods. But a growing body of evidence suggests that this view is an expedience that comes at considerable, and possibly avoidable, cost. The article argues that more effective policy instruments will emerge from analyzing the processes by which households balance the diverse interests of their members. Coauthors are Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Lawrence Haddad, John Hoddinott, and Ravi Kanbur. Copyright 1995 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:10:y:1995:i:1:p:1-19

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