Intrahousehold Consumption Allocation and Demand for Agency: A Triple Experimental Investigation

98 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Uzma Afzal

Uzma Afzal

University of Nottingham; Lahore School of Economics - Center for Research in Economics and Business

Giovanna d'Adda

Polytechnic University of Milan - Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Farah Said

Centre for Research in Economics and Business, Lahore School of Economics

Date Written: August 2018

Abstract

We conduct two lab experiments and one field experiment to investigate demand for consumption agency in married couples. The evidence we uncover is consistent across all three experiments. Subjects are often no better at guessing their spouse's preferences than those of a stranger, and many subjects disregard what they believe or know about others' preferences when assigning them a consumption bundle. This confers instrumental value to individual executive agency within the household. We indeed find significant evidence of demand for agency in all three experiments, and this demand varies with the cost and anticipated instrumental benefit of agency. But subjects often make choices incompatible with pure instrumental motives – e.g., paying for agency even when they know their partner assigned them their preferred choice. We also find female subjects to be quite willing to exert agency even though, based on survey responses, they have little executive agency within their household. We interpret this as suggestive of pent-up demand for agency, and indeed we find that female demand for agency falls as a result of an empowerment intervention.

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Suggested Citation

Afzal, Uzma and d'Adda, Giovanna and Fafchamps, Marcel and Said, Farah, Intrahousehold Consumption Allocation and Demand for Agency: A Triple Experimental Investigation (August 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24977. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244291

Uzma Afzal (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Lahore School of Economics - Center for Research in Economics and Business ( email )

Intersection Main Boulevard
Phase VI DHA and Burki Road
Burki, Lahore 54000
Pakistan

Giovanna D'Adda

Polytechnic University of Milan - Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering ( email )

Via Lambruschini 4C - building 26/A
Milano, 20156
Italy

Marcel Fafchamps

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Farah Said

Centre for Research in Economics and Business, Lahore School of Economics ( email )

Intersection DHA VI and Burki
Burki
Lahore, Punjab 53200
Pakistan

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