Household Decision Making with Violence: Implications for Transfer Programs
Intimate partner violence and transfers
This project portraits intimate partner violence as part of the household decision making process. In particular, I study how violence responds to transfers to women, and whether this response depends on the transfer being in-kind or in-cash. To this end, I develop and estimate a model of household decisions in which the spouses maximized a weighted sum of their utilities, and the weights are endogenously determined through violence. Only men can inflict violence to increase their relative weight, but at the cost of destroying female labour productivity. Under this framework, the utility gains that the husband can appropriate through violence are lower when the transfers are in-kind than when the transfer are in-cash. As any transfer is potentially extra-marginal, in-kind and cash transfers have different effects. I estimate the model using data from a randomized controlled trial which provides transfers, either in-kind or cash, to women of poor families in Ecuador. The results indicate that, on average, violence destroys 4% of female productivity with a market value of 10 dollars a month. Violence also reduces the female relative weight in the household utility by 12%. A cash transfer equivalent to 10% of the average household income would reduce the prevalence of violence from 17% to 10%. If the same transfer were in-kind, violence would decline by 3 additional percentage points. Such differential effect amplifies with the size of the transfer.