Spousal Secret Affairs with Money: Intra-household Allocative Efficiency in Spaces of Gender Politics in Development

Gamel Abdul-Nasser Salifu


Persisting gender inequities across political, economic and social life have spurred the global agenda to re-examine the triggers and consequences of gender disaggregation in household resource allocations. Defining and measuring intrahousehold allocations has been at the centre of the current debates among international development scholars and practitioners. The lack of clear consensus on intrahousehold public good allocation has consistently limited widespread efforts to design and evaluate programmes and policies aimed at improving women’s welfare. Based on intrahousehold allocation models, this paper proposes a conceptual framework which can accommodate the welfare of the household as an economic entreprise. Building on Sen (1989) and Kabeer (1999), this paper selectively reviews the abundant literature that offers insights into intra-household decision- making process and gender relations. The review illustrates the importance of intrahousehold allocations and describes a set of individual strategies that household agents use to by-pass intrahousehold negotiations and to secure private consumption. In many of the instances where inefficiencies have been identified in the data, a possible immediate cause is individual behaviour aimed at securing personal resources and consumption. Even, if they come, at the expense of total resources available to the household. Although, it need not be the case that such strategic behaviour are necessarily the source of inefficiencies, they may well be feeding the flames of suboptimality in household production entreprises.. That said, the paper clearly iterates circumstances under which non-cooperative behaviour of spousal income hiding could be vital to circumventing social norms which undermine Pareto productive efficiency. The paper further highlights the role played by collective resistance of social forces to economic changes that threaten social norms and gender roles. The study pinpoints evidence of collaborative efforts to stop women from embracing new economic opportunities that overturn traditional roles. Investigating the role played by household structure in reaching Pareto optimality for inefficient rural households, the paper concludes that neither monogamous nor polygynous conjugal units attain higher margins of efficiency. Instead, household agents played dictator games in public good allocation and responded opportunistically to private choices and strategies which optimized secret consumption.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijba.v12n3p108

International Journal of Business Administration
ISSN 1923-4007(Print) ISSN 1923-4015(Online)


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