PROJECT

ASYMMETRIC INFORMATION IN THE HOUSEHOLD: FATHERS, CHILDREN, AND PEER-PRESSURE

Researchers: Anja Tolonen with Eeshani Kandpal and Carolin Sjoholm

Development programs with the purpose of improving child health and welfare often target women, which is motivated by the rejection of the unitary household model. Income in the hands of a mother has greater benefits for child welfare than the same income in the hands of a father. This has been interpreted as evidence for differences in child welfare preferences. The researchers posit the hypothesis that the observed difference in spending patterns is the result of asymmetric information stemming from social norms and household division of labor. They propose a randomized control experiment related to PROSPERA, a conditional cash transfer program in Mexico. The conditionality of their program includes women's participation in health information meetings. Their experimental program invites fathers to participate in these informational meetings. They interpret any changes in fathers' household allocation behavior---measured in lab in the field experiments---as proof of limited information among fathers pre-intervention. Furthermore, they explore the role of social norms and peer pressure on fathers' willingness to spend on child health and welfare.