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Is it money or brains? The determinants of intra-family decision power

We empirically study the determinants of intra-household decision power with respect to economic and financial choices using a suitable direct measure provided in the 1989-2010 Bank of Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth. Focusing on a sample of couples, we evaluate the effect of each spouse's characteristics, household characteristics, and background variables. We find that the probability that the wife is in charge is affected by household characteristics such as family size and total income and wealth, but more importantly that it increases with the difference between hers and her husband's characteristics in terms of age, ducation, and income. The main conclusion is that decision-making power over family economics is not only determined by strictly economic differences, as suggested by previous studies, but also by differences in human capital and experience. Finally, exploiting the time dimension of our dataset, we show that this pattern is increasing over time.

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Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 238.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 15 Jun 2012
Date of revision: 15 Jun 2012
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:238
Contact details of provider: Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
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  1. Bertocchi, Graziella & Brunetti, Marianna & Torricelli, Costanza, 2011. "Marriage and other risky assets: A portfolio approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 2902-2915, November.
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  8. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work and Fertility," CEPR Discussion Papers 5089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  17. Sunden, Annika E & Surette, Brian J, 1998. "Gender Differences in the Allocation of Assets in Retirement Savings Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 207-11, May.
  18. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:917-961 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
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