Article | American Economic Review | September 2009

Spousal Control and Intra-Household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines

by Nava Ashraf

Abstract

Using an experimental design I elicit causal effects of spousal observability and communication on financial choices of married individuals in the Philippines. Making choices public moves men from putting money into their own account to consumption; communication with their spouse drives men to put income in their wives' account. The strong effect on men but not women of information and communication appears to be driven not as much by gender as by control: men whose wives control household savings are much more likely to exhibit this treatment effect, and women whose husbands control savings exhibit the same pattern as men. These results suggest that existing household models and policies are incomplete without taking into account the bargaining process and, in particular, the way in which this process interacts with underlying control structures in the household.

Keywords: intra-household; bargaining; experiments; economic development; Saving; Governance Controls; Decision Choices and Conditions; Personal Finance; Family and Family Relationships; Household Characteristics; Gender Characteristics;

Citation:

Ashraf, Nava. "Spousal Control and Intra-Household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines." American Economic Review 99, no. 4 (September 2009): 1245–1277. (Online Appendix.)