Intra-Household Resource Allocation and Targeted Transfers

Intra-Household Resource Allocation and Targeted Transfers

Many welfare programs around the world target women with cash transfers rather than men. Examples are the many conditional cash transfer schemes around the world. The main arguments used for such targeting is that transfers to women/mothers strengthen the position of mothers as well as children, in the society, and thus such targeting promotes child development. But despite the large flows of money targeting women using these arguments, we have little empirical evidence on the effect of such targeting.



This ambitious research project will aim to provide research evidence on the effect of gender targeting. The project will develop and use novel survey design and economic experiments, both in the "lab" and in the field, to study the effect of gender targeting on female empowerment and child development.
This project leverage on the existing infrastructure of the Kizazi Kijacho project.


A significant fraction of governmental programs, welfare arrangements, and cash transfer programs target women. In matters related to children, most countries have a long tradition of targeting mothers. For example, in Norway, the child benefits are automatically paid to mothers and 90% of the recipients are mothers. The main reasoning behind policies that target mothers is that they promote gender equality, empower women, increase investments in children, and improve child welfare. This can be formalized into two arguments; (i) the maternal argument states that women are more likely to spend money on goods and services that benefit children than men are, and (ii) the empowerment argument states that targeting women will increase their control over resources in the household and therefore empower them.
The empirical evidence on how targeted transfers affect household allocations and child outcomes is still limited, and we know very little about the mechanisms that generate any such impacts. The aim of this project is to start to close this gap in the literature by advancing on the measurements, providing novel evidence on the effect of targeted transfer policies on household resource allocation, and study underlying mechanisms, in a comparative study in ten countries. To do so, we will (i) develop, harmonize and validate measures that can be used in different contexts to elicit effects on children of targeting mothers, and (ii) improve on survey measures of women’s intra-household bargaining power and develop better elicitation methods of power in the household decision making. Using these improved measurement techniques will allow us to understand whether the maternal and empowerment arguments are valid, and if so in which contexts, offering innovative insights and significant results that will be important for science and policy.

The project is divided into three work packages. In the first work package, WP1: Validation of allocation instrument, we will develop and validate the allocation instrument that will be used to test the maternal argument. We will validate the instrument in laboratory experiments in four countries (Norway, Chile, India, and Tanzania). In the second work package, WP2: Randomized controlled trial, we will implement an unconditional cash transfer in Tanzania to (i) further validate the allocation instrument in the field, (ii) develop and validate instruments for household decision making that can be used to test the empowerment argument, (iii) using the validated instruments to study the validity of the maternal and empowerment arguments directly in the field, (iv) investigate mechanisms behind allocation decisions, and (v) study other potential consequences of targeted transfers such as female labor supply and domestic violence. Finally, in the third work package, WP3: Cross-cultural study, we will use the allocation instrument validated in WP1 and WP2, to investigate the maternal argument in 10 countries, representing each income decile in the world income distribution and spread out geographically across the world. We will also measure household decision making in these 10 countries using the newly validated household decision making instruments from WP2.




Assistant professor 
University of Chile


Development economics


Behavioural economics

Labour economics




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