Marriage, Cohabitation, and Intrahousehold Bargaining: Evidence from Brazilian Couples

Marcos A. Rangel, University of California, Los Angeles

The study of intrahousehold decision-making has received increased attention from the Economics and Sociology literatures. The extent to which members of the same household individualistically pursue their self-interest as opposed to being characterized by a group who share a common goal is an important question for many areas of inquiry in demography. This paper addresses this issue by examining how shifts in the "balance of power'" within the household affects behavioral choices. Here, the potential endogeneity of power measures is circumvent by exploiting changes in the Brazilian legal system regarding cohabitation as sources of variation. By observing changes in selected outcomes, aspects of the decision-making process can be recovered. The empirical evidence indicates that (intra-household) empowerment of women reflected into changes in time-allocation and in investments on children that reveal specificities of parental preferences. The results reaffirm that the unitary model is an imperfect way of representing households' decision making.

Presented in Session 38: Resource Allocation within and across Households and Generations