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What’s love got to do with it ? An experimental test of household models in East Uganda

We test core theories of the household using variants of a public good game and experimental data from 240 couples in rural Uganda. Spouses do not maximise surplus from cooperation and realise a greater surplus when women are in charge. This violates assumptions of unitary and cooperative models. When women control the common account, they receive less than when men control it; this contradicts standard bargaining models. Women contribute less than men and are rewarded more generously by men than vice versa. This casts doubt on postulates in Sen (1990). While the absence of altruism is rejected, we find evidence for opportunism. The results are put in a socioeconomic context using quantitative and qualitative survey data. Assortative matching and correlates of bargaining power influence behaviour within the experiments. Our findings suggest that a ‘one-size fits all’ model of the household is unlikely to be satisfactory.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London in its series Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics with number 06/01.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision: Feb 2006
Handle: RePEc:hol:holodi:0601
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  1. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  2. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Gender and Say A Model of Household Behavior with Endogenously-determined Balance of Power," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2054, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Frances Woolley, 2000. "Control over Money in Marriage," Carleton Economic Papers 00-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  4. H. Elizabeth Peters & A. Sinan Unur & Jeremy Clark & William D. Schulze, 2004. "Free-Riding and the Provision of Public Goods in the Family: A Laboratory Experiment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(1), pages 283-299, 02.
  5. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
  6. Apps,Patricia & Rees,Ray, 2009. "Public Economics and the Household," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521716284, May.
  7. Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  8. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-1277, September.
  9. Cecile Jackson, 2009. "Researching the Researched: Gender, Reflexivity and Actor-Orientation in an Experimental Game," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 21(5), pages 772-791, December.
  10. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-349, June.
  11. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  12. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  13. Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-1046, October.
  14. Munro, Alistair & Bateman, Ian J. & McNally, Tara, 2008. "The family under the microscope: an experiment testing economic models of household choice," MPRA Paper 8974, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. 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.
  16. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer & Anja Kurki, 2004. "Modeling Other-Regarding Preferences and an Experimental Test," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 91-117, 04.
  17. Peter Moffatt & Simon Peters, 2001. "Testing for the Presence of a Tremble in Economic Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 4(3), pages 221-228, December.
  18. Steven J. Humphrey & Arjan Verschoor, 2004. "Decision-making Under Risk among Small Farmers in East Uganda," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 13(1), pages 44-101, March.
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