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Don't tell on me: Experimental evidence of asymmetric information in transnational households

Kate Ambler ()

Journal of Development Economics, 2015, vol. 113, issue C, 52-69

Abstract: Although most theoretical models of household decision making assume perfect information, empirical studies suggest that information asymmetries can have large impacts on resource allocation. I demonstrate the importance of these asymmetries in transnational households, where physical distance between family members can make information barriers especially acute. I implement an experiment among migrants in Washington, DC, and their families in El Salvador that examines how information asymmetries can have strategic and inadvertent impacts on remittance decisions. Migrants make an incentivized decision over how much of a cash windfall to remit, and recipients decide how they will spend a remittance. Migrants strategically send home less when their choice is not revealed to recipients. Recipients make spending choices closer to migrants' preferences when the migrants' preferences are shared, regardless of whether or not the spending choices are revealed to the migrants, suggesting that recipients' choices are inadvertently affected by imperfect information.

Keywords: Remittances; Intra-household allocation; Information asymmetries; Transnational households (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.11.001

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