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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. Frances Woolley, 2000. "Control over Money in Marriage," Carleton Economic Papers 00-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  2. Martin Browning & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 1994. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: a General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Department of Economics Working Papers 1994-02, McMaster University.
  3. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1984. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 521-22, June.
  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.
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  6. 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.
  7. Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-46, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994. "Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-96, December.
  10. Kaushik Basu, 2006. "Gender and Say: a Model of Household Behaviour with Endogenously Determined Balance of Power," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 558-580, 04.
  11. Ligon, Ethan, 2002. "Dynamic bargaining in households (with an application to Bangladesh)," CUDARE Working Paper Series 972, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  12. 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.
  13. Corfman, Kim P & Lehmann, Donald R, 1987. " Models of Cooperative Group Decision-Making and Relative Influence: An Experimental Investigation of Family Purchase Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 1-13, June.
  14. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521716284 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Schultz, T.P., 1990. "Testing The Neoclassical Model Of Family Labor Supply And Fertility," Papers 601, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  16. 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 333-49, June.
  17. Farmer, Amy & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1995. "Fairness concepts and the intrahousehold allocation of resources," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-189, August.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Peter Moffatt & Simon Peters, 2001. "Testing for the Presence of a Tremble in Economic Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 221-228, December.
  22. Ligon, Ethan, 2002. "Dynamic bargaining in households (with application to Bangladesh)," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt1t52k4c5, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  23. Folbre, Nancy R, 1984. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 518-20, June.
  24. 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.
  25. 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 1245-77, September.
  26. Cecile Jackson, 2009. "Researching the Researched: Gender, Reflexivity and Actor-Orientation in an Experimental Game," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 21(5), pages 772-791, December.
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