This paper tests whether mothers and fathers differ in their spending
on their daughters relative to their sons. We compare mothers’
and fathers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for specific goods for their
children, diverging from the previous literature’s approach of comparing
the expenditure effects of mothers’ versus fathers’ income.
Our method, which we apply in Uganda, allows us to estimate gender
differences and explore mechanisms with greater precision. We
find that fathers have a lower WTP for their daughters’ human
capital than their sons’ human capital, whereas mothers do not.
We then examine why spending patterns differ between mothers
and fathers, e.g., altruism, personal returns to investing in children.
We find evidence that altruism plays a role: fathers’ WTP
for goods that simply bring joy to their daughters is lower than
their WTP for such goods for their sons, but mothers’ is not.