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Fridays Academy: Gender and Macroeconomics

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

As usual on Fridays, from  Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.


 Gender Inequalities and Consumption

Stotsky (2006) identifies two particular strands to the research on the effects of gender on consumption behavior. The first notes that women have a stronger preference for spending on goods and services that contribute to the human capital of their children. The implications suggest that in households where women control the resources, more will be spent on education, health and nutrition. Men and women frequently have very different priorities when it comes to expenditure. Quisuimbing and McClafferty (2006) note that studies in the 1980s suggest that men and women systematically spend income under their control in different ways. Both authors also note that “the most consistent effect across countries is that resources controlled by women tend to increase expenditure shares on education relative to resources controlled by men” (p. 11).  The table below summarizes some of the findings from the literature.


Gender effects on household compsumption behaviour



                                                                                                                                                                                                                * resources brought to marriage by men and women . Source: Synopsis of studies cited in Stotsky (2006), pp. 9 and 10.


A number of studies show that increasing a woman’s decision-making powers within the household has positive outcomes for spending on education, health and nutrition.  The information for the table below draws from a number of research reports that highlight the positive outcomes arising from increasing women’s powers within the household.   Most of the findings are sourced from Quisumbing and McClafferty (2006), UNDP and the World Bank. Quisumbing and McClafferty (2006) offer a nontechnical presentation of research findings from the International Food Policy Research Institute’s multicountry research program on gender and intrahousehold issues, along with implications and key questions for integrating gender research findings into project cycle and policy decision-making processes.  


Increasing women’s decision-making shows positive outcomes for consumption


 Source:   Derived from the quoted studies

Gender differences in spending have clear implications for the macro-economy and for macroeconomic policy.   Stotsky (2006) refers to the macroeconomic implications of women’s propensity to spend on necessities compared to that of men.

(i) Greater spending on goods and services that would increase human capital will ultimately affect economic growth

(ii) Given that spending on necessities is less responsive to variations in income, we would expect more stable expenditure in economies where women have a greater degree of control over household purchases

(iii) therefore policies that improve women’s control over household spending should strengthen macroeconomic growth and stability (Stotsky, 2006; p. 11).