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Distribution of power within the household and child health

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas, Duncan
  • Contreras, Dante
  • Frankerberg, Elizabeth

Recent research suggests that household decision-making may be influenced by the relative power of husbands and wives. But, empirical measurement of relative power has been extremely difficult. Using data that were specially collected to address this issue, the value of resources that husbands and wives brought to the marriage are treated as an indicator of economic independence and, therefore, relative power within a marriage. The concept of individual ownership of premarital assets is particularly germane in Indonesia, our study site. Among Javanese families, it is an important and longstanding tradition that resources brought to the marriage by an individual are retained under her (or his) control. Our empirical results indicate that child health is influenced by the relative asset positions of parents at the time they were married, even after controlling current household resources. This suggests that relative power does affect resource allocation within household. Exploiting the fact that there we have multiple measures of child health, we test the hypothesis that it would be possible to re-allocate resources so that at least one household member may be better off without someone else being worse off. We reject this hypothesis and conclude that policies that seek to re-allocate resources within households may not be effective without fundamental shifts in the distribution of power between men and women within the society.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/80075/1/MPRA_paper_80075.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 80075.

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Date of creation: Mar 2002
Date of revision: Mar 2002
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:80075
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  1. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
  2. Andrew D. Foster, 1995. "Analysis of Household Behavior when Households Choose Their Members: Marriage-Market Selection and Human Capital Allocations in Rural Bangladesh," Home Pages _078, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. 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.
  4. Quisumbing, Agnes R., 1994. "Intergenerational transfers in Philippine rice villages : Gender differences in traditional inheritance customs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 167-195, April.
  5. Nelson, Charles R & Startz, Richard, 1990. "The Distribution of the Instrumental Variables Estimator and Its t-Ratio When the Instrument Is a Poor One," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages 125-140, January.
  6. 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.
  7. Phillips, Peter C B & Park, Joon Y, 1988. "On the Formulation of Wald Tests of Nonlinear Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1065-1083, September.
  8. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
  9. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
  10. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  11. 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.
  12. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-467, June.
  13. Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "For Better or Worse: The Roles of Power in Models of Distribution within Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 148-152, May.
  14. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  15. Gregory, Allan W & Veall, Michael R, 1985. "Formulating Wald Tests of Nonlinear Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1465-1468, November.
  16. 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 333-349, June.
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