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Why pay child benefits to Mothers?

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?

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File URL: http://www1.carleton.ca/economics/research/working-papers/carleton-economic-papers-cep-2001-2010/
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Paper provided by Carleton University, Department of Economics in its series Carleton Economic Papers with number 02-08.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 11 Jun 2002
Date of revision: Mar 2004
Publication status: Published: Revised version in Canadian Public Policy, Vol. 30, No. 1 (March 2004), pp. 47–69
Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:02-08
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  1. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-6, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  2. Phipps, S.A. & Burton, P.S., 1992. "What's Mine is Yours?: The Influence of Male and Female Incomes on Patterns of Household Expenditure," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive 92-12, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  3. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-08, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  4. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  5. Chen, Zhiqi & Woolley, Frances, 2001. "A Cournot-Nash Model of Family Decision Making," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 722-48, October.
  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.
  7. Holly Sutherland & Cathal O’Donoghue, 1998. "Accounting for the Family: The treatment of marriage and children in European income tax systems," Papers iopeps98/25, Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series.
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