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Intra-household Inequality, Fairness and Productivity. Evidence from A Real Effort Experiment


  • Faith Masekesa

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan)

  • Munro Alistair

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan)


This paper investigates experimentally how changes in wage rates and entitlements affect individual productivity in lab-in-the-field experiments run with married couples from rural regions in Uganda. We design a game in which the production task itself is straightforward, but where the rules governing payment vary across subjects and between rounds. In some cases, all the value of output goes to the husband; in other cases all goes to the wife; in other cases the value of output is shared equally and finally in some cases each spouse receives income according to only their own output. To consider the effects of wage inequality we vary the price paid for each completed item so that the ratio of male to female wages varies from 0.5 to 2. All this is done transparently so that both partners know the rules of the game. The results generally indicate that a rise in relative wages lowers relative effort, a result that is contrary to the most straightforward interpretation of standard models of the household, but compatible with some models of fairness. Men do not generally respond strongly to treatment. In contrast, women fs labour supply is strongly backward bending when all income goes to the husband, but effort rises with wages when each spouse gets to keep their own earnings. The results therefore suggest that the effects of reforming or removing one inequality may depend critically on the existence of other inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Faith Masekesa & Munro Alistair, 2018. "Intra-household Inequality, Fairness and Productivity. Evidence from A Real Effort Experiment," GRIPS Discussion Papers 18-18, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ngi:dpaper:18-18

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