Does one size fit all? 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). We also find strong evidence for opportunism. The results are put in a socioeconomic context using survey data and follow-up interviews, which provides hints of the external validity of our findings; more so for contribution than for allocation behaviour. Taken together, our findings suggest that a `one-size fits all' model of the household is unlikely to be satisfactory.
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