Identifying Non-Cooperative Behavior Among Spouses: Child Outcomes in Migrant-Sending Households

74 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2007 Last revised: 17 Mar 2010

See all articles by Joyce J. Chen

Joyce J. Chen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics

Date Written: February 24, 2009

Abstract

In the presence of asymmetric information, allocations can only be coordinated to the extent that each can be monitored, and household decision-making may not be fully cooperative. Because this information problem is particularly acute when individuals are not co-resident, I examine households in which the father migrates without his spouse and children. Results from the China Health and Nutrition Survey indicate that, when the father is away, girls' household labor increases while mothers' total work hours decrease. This is inconsistent with a unitary model in which there is no non-cooperative behavior and household members simply reallocate time to compensate for the father's absence. Furthermore, outcomes that are easily observed by the father - child schooling and health - are not affected by migration, controlling for changes in income. This is also inconsistent with a non-unitary model in which mothers' bargaining power increases when fathers migrate, given existing evidence which suggests that mothers have stronger preferences than fathers for these goods. I propose a simple model of contracting under asymmetric information and argue that this is consistent with the data. Additional implications are then tested regarding how and which allocations are likely to be affected.

Keywords: household bargaining, non-cooperation, migration

JEL Classification: D13, J12, J13, J61

Suggested Citation

Chen, Joyce J., Identifying Non-Cooperative Behavior Among Spouses: Child Outcomes in Migrant-Sending Households (February 24, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=964212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.964212

Joyce J. Chen (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics ( email )

2120 Fyffe Rd
Columbus, OH 43210-1067
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.aede.osu.edu/people/chen.1276

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