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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 3 (May 2013)

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Is Ignorance Bliss? The Effect of Asymmetric Information between Spouses on Intra-household Allocations

Article Citation

Castilla, Carolina, and Thomas Walker. 2013. "Is Ignorance Bliss? The Effect of Asymmetric Information between Spouses on Intra-household Allocations." American Economic Review, 103(3): 263-68.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.263

Abstract

We conducted a field experiment in Southern Ghana to test the effect of asymmetric information on intrahousehold allocation. A lottery was conducted, where prizes were distributed in public and in private. The results indicate that asymmetric information over windfalls has a differential effect on observable and concealable expenses, consistent with hiding. Husbands' public windfalls increase investment in assets and social capital, while there is no such effect when wives win. Private windfalls of both spouses are committed to cash (wives) or in-kind gifts (husband) which are either difficult to monitor or to reverse if discovered by the other spouse.

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Authors

Castilla, Carolina (Colgate U)
Walker, Thomas (World Bank)

JEL Classifications

D13: Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
D82: Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
O12: Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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