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Intrahousehold Decision-making and Well-being: Measurement and Evidence

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon I
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Betsey Stevenson, University of Michigan

Domestic Violence, Decision-Making Power and Female Employment in Colombia

Johanna Fajardo-Gonzalez
Universidad EAFIT


Using data from the Colombian Demographic and Health Survey, I study the relationship
between domestic violence (DV) and womens employment. I find a positive
relationship between DV and employment, which persists when I exploit husbands
childhood experience of domestic violence as a source of plausibly exogenous variation
for the incidence of DV. I find that the incidence of DV increases the likelihood of
female employment by about 19 percentage points. To explain the results, I explore
the role of womens decision-making power using a mediation analysis. I find evidence
that women may work to escape violent situations at home by enhancing their
decision-making power. I also find that the effect of DV on employment appears to
be lower among abused women with higher initial bargaining power.

Misreporting in Sensitive Health Behaviors and its Impact on Treatment Effects: An Application to Intimate Partner Violence

Veronica Frisancho
Inter-American Development Bank
Jorge M. Aguero
University of Connecticut


A growing literature seeks to identify policies that could reduce intimate partner violence. However, in the absence of reliable administrative records, this violence is often measured using self-reported data from health surveys. We conducted an experiment comparing data from such surveys against a methodology that provides greater privacy to the respondent. We identified non-classical measurement error in health surveys as college educated women, but not the less educated, underreport physical and sexual violence. We provide a low-cost solution to correct the bias in the estimation of causal effects under non-classical measurement error in the dependent variable.

Parental Time Investments and Instantaneous Well-being

Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal
University of Zaragoza
Almudena Sevilla
Queen Mary University of London


We use the Well-being Modules of the American Time Use Survey to document that, despite spending about 30 minutes more in child careper day, higher educated mothers report lower levels of instantaneous wellbeing than less-educated mothers during childrelated activities. Our results hold after controlling for a wide set of cofounders, including life satisfaction. Consistent with an economic identity model of intensive mothering, we find that the education gradient in maternal instantaneous well-being is unique to child care activities. There is no education gradient during non-child-related activities, among fathers or among non-mothers (JEL D13, I21, I31, J13, J60).

Efficiency in Intrahousehold Resource Allocation and Women’s Bargaining Power

Kelly Jones
International Food Policy Research Institute
Maria Recalde
University of Melbourne


Various models of the household assume Pareto efficiency. However, studies using data from the developing world show that there are inefficiencies in the allocation of resources within households. We advance this literature by testing for heterogeneity in Pareto efficiency along an important feature of intrahousehold dynamics: women’s level of empowerment. Results show that higher levels of women’s bargaining power are associated with lower degrees of inefficiency in the allocation of resources for production within households. We cannot identify the direction of causality but provide suggestive evidence that higher levels of empowerment allow women to better access resources for production.
Erica Field
Duke University
Betsey Stevenson
University of Michigan
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics
  • D1 - Household Behavior and Family Economics