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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Identifying Non-Cooperative Behavior Among Spouses: Child Outcomes in Migrant-Sending Households

Journal of Development Economics, 100(1), 1-18, January 2013. Lead Article.

I propose a model of household decision-making under asymmetric information and show that resulting allocations may not be fully cooperative. The model yields a simple test for cooperative decision-making, which I apply to data from China. I find that, when the father migrates without his family, children spend more time in household production, while mothers spend less time in both household production and income-generating activities. This is not consistent with standard cooperative models of the household: simply reallocating time to compensate for the father's absence would cause an increase in household labor for both children and mothers and, if migration occurs in response to a negative shock, we should observe an increase in mothers' time in income-generating activities rather than a reduction. The results also do not appear to be driven by an increase in mothers' bargaining power, as children's human capital is not affected by migration, controlling for income.




Publication type: 
Journal article
Date published: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2013