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Decision-making within the household: The role of autonomy and differences in preferences

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  • Alem, Yonas
  • Hassen, Sied
  • Köhlin, Gunnar

Abstract

We use a field experiment to identify how differences in preferences and autonomy in decision-making result in low willingness-to-pay (WTP) for technologies that can benefit all members of the household. We create income earning opportunities to empower households and elicit their WTP for fuel, time and indoor air pollution-reducing improved cookstoves through a real stove purchase experiment. The decision to buy the stove was randomly assigned to either wives, husbands or couples. Experimental results suggest that wives, who often are responsible for cooking and collecting fuelwood, are willing to pay 57% more than husbands, and 39% more than couples. Wives who earned their own income are willing to pay 67% more than husbands who earned their own income, and 45% more than couples. Results also show that women who have higher reported decision-making autonomy are willing to pay substantially more than those with lower decision-making autonomy. A follow up survey conducted 15 months after the stove purchase shows that neither the treatments nor decision-making autonomy have any effect on stove use. Our findings highlight the importance of considering division of labor, preference difference and decisionmaking autonomy within the household when promoting adoption of new household technologies, and that simple income earning opportunities enable poor women to make decisions that are in their best interest.

Suggested Citation

  • Alem, Yonas & Hassen, Sied & Köhlin, Gunnar, 2020. "Decision-making within the household: The role of autonomy and differences in preferences," Ruhr Economic Papers 874, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:rwirep:874
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    1. Gunther Bensch & Jörg Peters, 2020. "One‐Off Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption—Experimental Evidence on Improved Cooking Stoves in Senegal," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 102(1), pages 72-90, January.
    2. Alem, Yonas, 2021. "Mitigating climate change through sustainable technology adoption: Insights from cookstove interventions," Ruhr Economic Papers 907, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Alem, Yonas & Dugoua, Eugenie, 2018. "Passive Learning and Incentivized Communication: A Randomized Controlled Trial in India," Working Papers in Economics 723, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Bindu Shrestha & Sudarshan R. Tiwari & Sushil B. Bajracharya & Martina M. Keitsch & Hom B. Rijal, 2021. "Review on the Importance of Gender Perspective in Household Energy-Saving Behavior and Energy Transition for Sustainability," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(22), pages 1-18, November.
    5. Alem, Yonas & Ruhinduka, Remidius D., 2020. "Saving Africa's tropical forests through energy transition: A randomized controlled trial in Tanzania," Ruhr Economic Papers 885, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Alem, Yonas & Dugoua, Eugenie, 2021. "Learning from unincentivized and incentivized communication: A randomized controlled trial in India," Ruhr Economic Papers 895, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    preference; decision-making autonomy; willingness-to-pay;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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