FAIR Online Seminar: Alessandra Voena

We invite you to an online FAIR seminar with Alessandra Voena (stanford.edu) on October 4th in FAIR-1.

The seminar starts at 17.15 and will last one hour. There will be food served from 16.30.


While men and women often make joint decisions about fertility, it is typically women who give birth. This gives rise to gendered spheres of learning about and bearing costs related to children. A differential understanding of costs can lead to conflict in the household. We conduct an experiment on couples in Zambia, varying whether the husband or wife receives information about maternal health risk. At baseline, husbands have lower awareness of maternal mortality risk factors than wives. One year post intervention, husbands exhibit significant gains in knowledge of maternal risk and report lower household fertility goals, but only when the information is delivered directly to them. Indeed, when men learn directly about about maternal mortality risk, pregnancy rates fall substantially, and no less than when when women are provided the same information. To understand the implications of our findings for wellbeing, we develop a model in which information asymmetries over maternal health risk due to gender spheres can persist in equilibrium and cause disagreement over fertility within a couple. Consistent with the model, we find that providing information to men increases their satisfaction with the marriage. On the contrary, this does not happen when women are the ones receiving the information and attempt to communicate it with their husbands. Instead, we observe that women who receive the maternal mortality information receive fewer transfers from their husband. These findings suggest that costs and risks, particularly those borne by one party, cannot be easily communicated within the household, but with appropriate targeting of information not only can asymmetries be overcome influencing decision making but  the household's wellbeing can be improved.