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Who wears the trousers? A semiparametric analysis of decision power in couples

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  • Melanie Lührmann

    ()

  • Jürgen Maurer

    () (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

Decision processes among couples depend on the balance of power between the partners, determining the welfare of household members as well as household outcomes. However, little is known about the determinants of power. The collective model of household behavior gives an operational definition of decision power. We argue that important aspects of this concept of power are measurable through self-assessments of partners’ say. Using such a measure, we model balance of power as an outcome of the interplay between both partners’ demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics. Advancing flexible, yet parsimonious empirical models is crucial for the analysis, as both absolute status as well as relative position in the couple might potentially affect the balance of power, and gender-asymmetries may be important. Appropriately, we advance semiparametric double index models that feature one separate index for each spouse, which interact nonparametrically in the determination of power. Based on data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS), we find education and employment status to be associated with more individual decision power, especially for women. Moreover, health and income have independent effects on the distribution of power. We also show that contextual factors are important determinants of decision power, with women in urban couples featuring more decision power than their rural counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Melanie Lührmann & Jürgen Maurer, 2008. "Who wears the trousers? A semiparametric analysis of decision power in couples," MEA discussion paper series 08168, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:08168
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    Cited by:

    1. Graziella Bertocchi & Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2012. "Is it money or brains? The determinants of intra-family decision power," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 12062, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    2. Aline Bütikofer & Michael Gerfin, 2017. "The economies of scale of living together and how they are shared: estimates based on a collective household model," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 433-453, June.
    3. Bertocchi, Graziella & Brunetti, Marianna & Torricelli, Costanza, 2014. "Who holds the purse strings within the household? The determinants of intra-family decision making," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 65-86.
    4. Nottmeyer, Olga, 2011. "Couple's Relative Labor Supply in Intermarriage," IZA Discussion Papers 5567, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1852-1882, June.
    6. Olga Nottmeyer, 2014. "Relative labor supply in intermarriage," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-27, December.
    7. AINA, Carmen & MAZZOTTA, Fernanda & PARISI, Lavinia, 2014. "Bargaining or efficiency within the household? The case of Italy," CELPE Discussion Papers 130, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.

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    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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