Discrimination, Marital Bargaining Power and Intrahousehold Allocation in Guatemala

Maria C. Calderon, University of Pennsylvania

Schooling attainment, age and physical asset gap between spouses at the time of union are often interpreted as differences in marital power. Using data from the Human Capital Study 2002-04 in Guatemala, this paper finds that on average, husbands bring more assets, are better educated and marry when older than wives. This study investigates the effects of wives’ relative marital bargaining power on household expenditure shares in food, education and health. The empirical analysis suggests strong evidence that wives’ bargaining power has a significant impact upon food expenditure shares. On the contrary, there is weak support that wives’ power affects expenditure shares in education and health, which appear to be luxury goods. A possible explanation for this lack of significance is sample selection in the demand for such ‘luxuries’. Finally, simulation results show that food expenditure shares increase if husband-wife inequalities are eliminated. Policy implications are offered in the conclusions.

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Presented in Poster Session 1