3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Speaker: Sandeep Mohapatra, PhD
Title: Identity economics and Intra-household Bargaining
We study the impact of an increase in married women’s incomes on their “say” over household decision-making (i.e. bargaining power). Using data on India for over 20,000 married women, we find the impact to be positive. This is consistent with household bargaining theory, the economic framework behind women’s empowerment policies. We also find, however, that an increase in a woman’s income can decrease her power. The decrease is amplified in proportion to the stringency of patriarchal norms in the woman’s household. This is consistent with the predictions of Identity theory which suggests that a husband’s identity loss, associated with his wife’s higher relative income, can trigger the wife to “relinquish some of her power” to appease the husband. These new empirical findings suggest that the reliance of women’s empowerment and related policies on bargaining theory alone is not sufficient.
Our estimation approach overcomes three main challenges. First, we address endogeneity and omitted variable concerns associated with bargaining power covariates by using a novel autoregressive framework using data on women’s power recorded in 2005 and 2012. Second, we identify Identity effects using documented variation in wives’ “roles” across combos of a social institution (caste) and a marriage related practice (purdah (or veiling)). Third, we overcome endogeneity related to women’s income by relying on a well researched national program directed at women; we exploit exogenous variation in exposure to the program created by its staggered implementation and its enrollment criteria.
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