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Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit


  • Shelly J. Lundberg
  • Robert A. Pollak
  • Terence J. Wales


Common preference models of family behavior imply income pooling, a restriction on family demand functions such that only the sum of husband's income and wife's income affects the allocation of goods and time. Testing the pooling hypothesis is difficult because most family income sources are not exogenous to the allocations being analyzed. In this paper, we present an alternative test based on a "natural experiment"-a policy change in the United Kingdom that transferred a substantial child allowance to wives in the late 1970s. Using Family Expenditure Survey data, we find strong evidence that a shift toward greater expenditures on women's clothing and children's clothing relative to men's clothing coincided with this income redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:32:y:1997:i:3:p:463-480

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