IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Does Female Empowerment Promote Economic Development?

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Michèle Tertilt

Empirical evidence suggests that money in the hands of mothers (as opposed to fathers) increases expenditures on children. From this, should we infer that targeting transfers to women is good economic policy? In this paper, we develop a non-cooperative model of household decision making to answer this question. We show that when women have lower wages than men, they may spend more on children, even when they have exactly the same preferences as their husbands. However, this does not necessarily mean that giving money to women is a good development policy. We show that depending on the nature of the production function, targeting transfers to women may be beneficial or harmful to growth. In particular, such transfers are more likely to be beneficial when human capital, rather than physical capital or land, is the most important factor of production.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19888.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19888
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Daniela Del Boca & Christopher Flinn, 2009. "Endogeneous Household Interaction," Working Papers 2009-001, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  3. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  4. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  5. Anderson, K.S. & Baland, J-M., 2000. "The Economics of Roscas and Intra-Household Resource Allocation," Discussion Paper 2000-83, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-61, September.
  7. Luis Rubalcava & Graciela Teruel & Duncan Thomas, 2009. "Investments, Time Preferences, and Public Transfers Paid to Women," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 507-538, 04.
  8. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  11. de la CROIX, David & VANDER DONCKT, Marie, 2008. "Would empowering women initiate the demographic transition in least-developed countries?," CORE Discussion Papers 2008043, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  12. Kennedy, Eileen & Peters, Pauline, 1992. "Household food security and child nutrition: the interaction of income and gender of household head," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(8), pages 1077-1085, August.
  13. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285, August.
  14. Christopher R. Udry & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Cote D'Ivoire: Social Norms, Separate Accounts and Consumption Choices," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm407, Yale School of Management.
  15. Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2003. "Out of the Wallet and into the Purse: Using Micro Data to Test Income Pooling," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2003-10, Claremont Colleges.
  16. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  17. Browning, Martin, 2000. " The Saving Behaviour of a Two-Person Household," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(2), pages 235-51, June.
  18. Agnes R. Quisumbing & John A. Maluccio, 2003. "Resources at Marriage and Intrahousehold Allocation: Evidence from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South Africa," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(3), pages 283-327, 07.
  19. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
  20. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John, 1994. "Women's income and boy-girl anthropometric status in the Cote d'Ivoire," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 543-553, April.
  21. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, December.
  22. Frances Woolley, 2004. "Why Pay Child Benefits to Mothers?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(1), pages 47-69, March.
  23. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2005. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Working Papers 929, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  24. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Child Health and Household Resources in South Africa: Evidence from the Old Age Pension Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 393-398, May.
  25. 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.
  26. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  27. Khandker, Shahidur R., 2003. "Microfinance and poverty - evidence using panel data from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2945, The World Bank.
  28. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  29. 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.
  30. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
  31. Gitter, Seth R. & Barham, Bradford, 2007. "Women's Power, Conditional Cash Transfers and Schooling in Nicaragua," Staff Paper Series 517, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
  32. Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1993. "Determinants and consequences of the mortality and health of infants and children," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 483-557 Elsevier.
  33. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
  34. 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.
  35. Hoddinott, John & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 77-96, February.
  36. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Are Women More Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 1-32, July.
  37. 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.
  38. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2011-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  39. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
  40. Cheryl Doss, 2006. "The Effects of Intrahousehold Property Ownership on Expenditure Patterns in Ghana," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 149-180, March.
  41. Esther Duflo, 2011. "Women's Empowerment and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, 09.
  43. Gustavo J. Bobonis, 2009. "Is the Allocation of Resources within the Household Efficient? New Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 453-503, 06.
  44. 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.
  45. Warr, Peter G., 1983. "The private provision of a public good is independent of the distribution of income," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 207-211.
  46. Siwan Anderson, 2000. "The Economics of Roscas and Intra-Household Resource Allocation," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1323, Econometric Society.
  47. David de la Croix & Marie Vander Donckt, 2010. "Would Empowering Women Initiate the Demographic Transition in Least Developed Countries?," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 85-129.
  48. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female enterprises growing ? evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5706, The World Bank.
  49. Davis, Harry L, 1976. " Decision Making within the Household," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 241-60, March.
  50. 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.
  51. Konrad, Kai A & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1995. " Family Policy with Non-cooperative Families," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 581-601, December.
  52. Justine Burns & Malcolm Keswell & Murray Leibbrandt, 2005. "Social Assistance, Gender, And The Aged In South Africa," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 103-115.
  53. Duncan THOMAS, 1993. "The Distribution of Income and Expenditure within the Household," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 29, pages 109-135.
  54. Valerie Lechene & Orazio Attanasio, 2002. "Tests of Income Pooling in Household Decisions," Economics Series Working Papers 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  55. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová, 2009. "Do children make women more patient? Experimental evidence from Indian villages," Working Papers IES 2009/10, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Feb 2009.
  56. Alessandra Voena, 2010. "Yours, Mine and Ours: Do Divorce Laws affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples??," 2010 Meeting Papers 1329, Society for Economic Dynamics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19888. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.