Asymmetric Information in the Household: Fathers and Child Welfare

Investigators: CDEP Affiliate Anja Tolonen

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. We posit the hypothesis that the observed difference in revealed preference is the result of asymmetric information stemming from social norms and household division of labor. We propose a randomized control experiment related to PROSPERA, a conditional cash transfer program in Mexico. The conditionality of the program includes women's participation in health information meetings. Our experimental program invites fathers to participate in informational meetings regarding children's needs. We interpret any changes in fathers' household allocation behavior, measured in lab and in field experiments, such as proof of limited information among fathers pre-intervention. Furthermore, we explore the role of social norms and peer pressure on fathers' willingness to spend on child health and welfare.

This project is part of CDEP's Human Capital Initiative.