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Why pay child benefits to Mothers?

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Abstract

Why pay child benefits to mothers? The "feminist" case for paying benefits to mothers rests on the idea that women may suffer if they have no independent access to economic resources. The "maternalist" case for targeting benefits to mothers rests on the idea that money paid to mothers is more likely to be spent in ways that benefit children. This paper answers the question "Why pay child benefits to mothers?" by asking how households manage their finances. I begin by considering the feminist case for using child benefits to alleviate women's economic dependence. I examine the extent of women's economic dependence first, by considering women's own access to earnings. I then examine unwaged women's dependence on men's incomes. Is income generally placed into a single pool, to which both parents have access, or do partners control their own incomes? How much access to income do unwaged parents enjoy? I then turn to the maternalist case for paying benefits to women. I begin by examining the question of whether or not women, generally speaking, treat their incomes differently from men, and trace the flow of child tax benefits through the household. Do child benefits get deposited into a joint account, an account in one of the parents' names, or an account in the child's name? Is it treated the same way as employment income, or differently? How important are these credits in the overall financial flows of the household?

Suggested Citation

  • Frances Woolley, 2002. "Why pay child benefits to Mothers?," Carleton Economic Papers 02-08, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:02-08
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    File URL: http://www1.carleton.ca/economics/research/working-papers/carleton-economic-papers-cep-2001-2010/
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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. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
    3. Chen, Zhiqi & Woolley, Frances, 2001. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 722-748, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    6. Martin Dooley & Ellen Lipman & Jennifer Stewart, 2005. "Exploring the Good Mother Hypothesis: Do Child Outcomes Vary with the Mother's Share of Income?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 31(2), pages 123-144, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2010. "Does Female Empowerment Promote Economic Development?," Working Papers id:3189, eSocialSciences.
    2. McLeish, Kendra N. & Oxoby, Robert J., 2007. "Gender, Affect and Intertemporal Consistency: An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Phipps, Shelley & Woolley, Frances, 2008. "Control over money and the savings decisions of Canadian households," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 592-611, April.
    4. Kelly Chen & Lars Osberg & Shelley Phipps, 2015. "Inter-generational effects of disability benefits: evidence from Canadian social assistance programs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 873-910, October.
    5. Martin Dooley & Ellen Lipman & Jennifer Stewart, 2005. "Exploring the Good Mother Hypothesis: Do Child Outcomes Vary with the Mother's Share of Income?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 31(2), pages 123-144, June.
    6. Jérôme De Henau, 2008. "Asymetric power within couples: the gendered effect of children and employment on entitlement to household income," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 51(2/3), pages 269-290.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    family; child; tax credits; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • H8 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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