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The intra-spousal balance of power within the family: cross-cultural evidence

Pierre-André Chiappori and José Alberto Molina ()
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Pierre-André Chiappori: Columbia University

No 983, Boston College Working Papers in Economics from Boston College Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper examines cross-cultural evidence of the intra-spousal balance of power within the family. The traditional, ‘unitary’ model of the family, which assumes that members maximize a single utility function, has increasingly been challenged in recent decades, as a consequence of a questioning of the underlying income-pooling hypothesis, through attempts to assume differential preferences of family members, with the relative power of spouses being of particular significance. These non-unitary models treat family decisions as outcomes of interactions between the spouses. We focus here on collective models, which have been most widely used for that purpose. We show international evidence on the basis of the UN Human Development Index 2018. Data results indicate that, in both developed (very high and top medium HDI) and non-developed (bottom medium and low HDI) cultural areas, non-unitary models, in which intra-spousal bargaining power plays a role, are empirically accepted. The Pareto-optimality hypothesis of collective models has been accepted for most statistical data bases. In developed cultural areas, wives, on average, control between one half and two thirds of household resources, with the highest bargaining power affecting expenditure patterns. As the bargaining power of women grows, allocations to education and school attendance also tend to grow in most countries.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural; Intra-marriage; Balance of Power; Non-unitary Models; Pareto-efficiency (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-09-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-upt
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