ResearchPublished on 07.07.2020

Working Paper 517 is out now

The question of diverging interests and preferences within couples over the use of household resources and the consequences of these conflictual views has been present for a long time in the development literature, albeit in a somewhat scattered way. This paper selectively reviews the abundant literature that offers insights into the intrahousehold decision-making process, the strategies put in place by individuals to secure their access to private resources, and the role of the changing economic environment in altering these mechanisms. This paper bridges different strands of the social sciences and exemplifies the complementarities among them. The main features of household organization are described to set the scene for the individual strategies introduced to bypass intrahousehold negotiations and secure access to private resources. These strategies include efforts to maintain access to income- earning opportunities and secrecy about income and savings. This paper also discusses attempts to maintain or tilt the balance of power within the household through the use of violence, on the one hand, and marital and fertility choices on the other hand. Finally, this paper describes directions for future research aimed at improving the understanding of household behaviour and responses to economic stimuli.

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