Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #874

Decision-making within the Household: The Role of Autonomy and Differences in Preferences

by Yonas Alem, Sied Hassen and Gunnar Köhlin

RWI, 11/2020, 55 S./p., 10 Euro, ISBN 978-3-96973-012-6 DOI: 10.4419/96973012



We use a field experiment to identify how differences in preferences and autonomy in decision-making
result in low willingness-to-pay (WTP) for technologies that can benefit all members of the household. We create income earning opportunities to empower households and elicit their WTP for fuel, time and indoor air pollution-reducing improved cookstoves through a real stove purchase experiment. The decision to buy the stove was randomly assigned to either wives, husbands or couples. Experimental results suggest that wives, who often are responsible for cooking and collecting fuelwood, are willing to pay 57% more than husbands, and 39% more than couples. Wives who earned their own income are willing to pay 67% more than husbands who earned their own income, and 45% more than couples. Results also show that women who have higher reported decision-making autonomy are willing to pay substantially more than those with lower decision-making autonomy. A follow up survey conducted 15 months after the stove purchase shows that neither the treatments nor decision-making autonomy have any effect on stove use. Our findings highlight the importance of considering division of labor, preference difference and decisionmaking autonomy within the household when promoting adoption of new household technologies, and that simple income earning opportunities enable poor women to make decisions that are in their best interest.

JEL-Classification: C78, C93, D13, O12

Keywords: Preference; decision-making autonomy; willingness-to-pay