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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. 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.
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  9. 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.
  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 333-49, June.
  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. Basu, Kaushik, 2001. "Gender and Say: A Model of Household Behavior with Endogenously-Determined Balance of Power," Working Papers 01-01, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
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  16. 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.
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  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.
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  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. 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.
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