Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Gender and Agency within the Household: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Author(s): Uzma Afzal, Giovanna D Adda, Marcel Fafchamps and Farah Said

Publication Date: August 2016

Keyword(s): agency, Consumption, empowerment, intrahousehold efficiency and sharing rule

Programme Area(s): Development Economics

Abstract: Theoretical and empirical work on intra-household decision making capture empowerment through bargaining weights given to individual preferences, and infer such weights from household consumption allocations. In this paper we test two key hypotheses underlying this work: first, that spousal influence is the same for all private consumption goods; and second, that women have pent up demand for pure agency. We use data from a survey and a novel laboratory experiment implemented with adult couples in Pakistan. We find that women's influence on household decisions is decreasing in the importance of the decision. We find no evidence that women have pent up demand for agency. Instead, women are less willing to pay for agency when facing an unknown man. We interpret this evidence as suggesting that women in our study population have internalized gender norms, and that these norms regulate interactions between genders most strongly outside of the household. We also find little evidence, within our experimental setting, that willingness to pay for agency is affected by the instrumental value of agency.

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Bibliographic Reference

Afzal, U, D Adda, G, Fafchamps, M and Said, F. 2016. 'Gender and Agency within the Household: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.