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Bargaining with Grandma: The Impact of the South African Pension on Household Decision-Making


  • Kate Ambler


I examine how an exogenous change in individual income affects decision-making in the household. Using the age discontinuity in eligibility for the South African pension, I find that eligible women are 15 percentage points more likely to be the primary decision-maker in the household than noneligible women. This corresponds with a large increase in their share of household income. There are no parallel effects for men. Due to labor force withdrawal, male income does not increase with eligibility, suggesting that their status in the household is unchanged. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Suggested Citation

  • Kate Ambler, 2016. "Bargaining with Grandma: The Impact of the South African Pension on Household Decision-Making," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 900-932.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:51:y:2016:i:4:p:900-932
    Note: DOI: 10.3368/jhr.51.4.0314-6265R1

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Tondini & Cally Ardington & Ingrid Woolard, 2017. "Public pensions and elderly informal employment: Evidence from a change in retirement age in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 206, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Cally Ardington & Boingotlo Gasealahwe, 2012. "Health: Analysis of the NIDS Wave 1 and 2 Datasets," SALDRU Working Papers 80, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    3. van den Bold, Mara & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Gillespie, Stuart, 2013. "Women’s empowerment and nutrition: An evidence review:," IFPRI discussion papers 1294, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Cheng, Lingguo & Liu, Hong & Zhang, Ye & Zhao, Zhong, 2018. "The health implications of social pensions: Evidence from China's new rural pension scheme," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 53-77.
    5. Abel, Martin, 2013. "Unintended labour supply effects of cash transfer programmes: Evidence from South Africa's old age pension," SALDRU Working Papers 114, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    6. Jean-Paul Azam & Elodie Djemai, 2019. "Matching, Cooperation and HIV in the Couple," Working Papers DT/2019/02, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    7. Sarah Baird & David McKenzie & Berk Özler, 2018. "The effects of cash transfers on adult labor market outcomes," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, December.
    8. Chloé van Biljon, 2017. "The effect of old age pensions on child deprivation: revisiting the role of gender," Working Papers 13/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    9. Kate Ambler & Alan de Brauw & Susan Godlonton, 2019. "Lump-sum Transfers for Agriculture and Household Decision Making," Department of Economics Working Papers 2019-19, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    10. Kacker, Kanishka, 2019. "Social transfers and labor supply: Long run rvidence from South Africa," MPRA Paper 99044, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Alzua, Maria Laura & Cantet, Maria Natalia & Dammert, Ana & Olajide, Daminola, 2020. "Mental Health Effects of an Old Age Pension: Experimental Evidence for Ekiti State in Nigeria," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304176, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Independent Evaluation Group, 2014. "Social Safety Nets and Gender : Learning from Impact Evaluations and World Bank Projects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 21365, June.

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