>===== Original Message From "QUISUMBING, AGNES"

> by
 Elizabeth Frankenberg and Duncan Thomas

 has been published by FCND and is now available (in
full text and in
 brief) on
         on IFPRI's website:
       http://www.cgiar.org/ifpri/divs/fcnd/dp.htm .
       Hard copies are available from Bonnie
McClafferty at

 There is a longstanding interest in how decisions
about resource allocations are made within households
and how those decisions affect
the welfare of household members. Much empirical work
has approached the problem from the perspective that
if preferences differ, welfare outcomes will depend on
the power of individuals within the household to exert
their own preferences. Measures of power are therefore
a central component of quantitative empirical
approaches to understanding how differences in
preferences translate into different welfare outcomes.
Following most of the empirical studies in this genre,
this paper focuses on dynamics within couples,
although we recognize that dynamics among extended
family members and across generations are of
substantial interest.
       A number of different measures of power have
been used in the literature. Because control over
economic resources is seen as an important source of
power, individual labor income, which one earns and so
presumably controls to some degree, is one potential
measure of power.
 However, whether and how much one works is a choice
that is not likely to be independent of one's power in
the household. Non-labor income has also been used as
a measure of power, but even if non-labor income does
notreflect contemporaneous choices, it likely does
reflect past choices, particularly labor supply
choices, and so is also a function of power.
 Levels of resources brought to the marriage by each
spouse, over which they may individually retain
control, are even less proximate to the current
choices of household members, but nevertheless reflect
one's taste in partners and therefore may not be
exogenous to power. (In some instances, resources
brought to the marriage may reflect decision making by
the couple's parents, depending on the role that
parents play in arranging marriages or transferring
resources at the time of marriage.)
       A possible source of insight into the issue is
to examine the
impact of changes that affect the distribution of
power within the household
but that are plausibly exogenous to that power, such
as changes in laws related to divorce or changes in
benefit programs that provide resources to one member
of the couple but not the other. Economic crises and
the dislocations that accompany them may be another
source of (exogenous) change that provides an
opportunity to examine whether changes in the
distribution of power within households is associated
with changes in the welfare of individuals within the
       Another way to gain insight into intrahousehold
decision making is to develop additional, more
plausibly exogenous, measures of power. In the absence
of conducting natural experiments, it may be
profitable to study variation in community norms or
ethnic traditions that give rise to different levels
of power for different household members. This
approach has particular appeal for societies with
heterogeneous cultures andthose
undergoing dramatic social change. This approach would
require combining
> insights from the ethnographic and sociological
literatures and from
> theoretical economic models of behavior, as well as
knowledge of survey
> design and field practice.
>       This paper describes an attempt to move in the
direction of this
> ambitious agenda.
> Additionally, beyond the development of alternative
or additional
> of power, it may also be useful to include in
household surveys explicit
> questions to multiple household members about
decision making within the
> household. This provides insights into differences
in perceptions among
> household members. Additionally, patterns of
decision making may be outcomes (and thus indicators)
of relative power within households.
Thus, indicators of decision making shed light on how
power manifests itself
in everyday life.

       A goal of this project was to develop and field
a decision making module as part of a large-scale,
multipurpose household survey, the
second Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS2). The IFLS2
was fielded in 13> provinces in Indonesia between
August, 1997, and February, 1998. From the point of
view of working in heterogeneous and dynamic
Indonesia is an ideal laboratory. The IFLS is an
ongoing panel survey, with the potential to provide a
picture of the dynamics of power relationships
over time and across the life course, an issue about
which little is known.

       This paper describes the approach we took to
developing the household decision making module and
presents preliminary results from
the IFLS2. We use the IFLS2 data to address the
following questions:

 1)To what extent are day-to-day patterns of managing
resources and making decisions consistent with the
notion that, within households, members either share
common preferences or the preferences of one member

 2)Within households, who has the power over the purse
strings? What characteristics predict power over the
purse strings?
> 3)How do husbands and wives make decisions about
expenditures and about use of time? Are there
particular spheres where the man assumes control, and
others where the woman dominates? Are certain spheres
of decision making more typically joint?
 4)Can we identify indicators of relative power that
can be collected in a field setting and that can
enrich our tests of models of household behavior? Can
measures of relative power used in other empirical
studies be correlated with these indicators?




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