We use a field experiment to identify how differences in preferences and autonomy in decision-making result in sub-optimal adoption of technologies that can maximize the welfare of all members of the household. We create income-earning opportunities to empower subjects and elicit their willingness-to-pay (WTP) for improved cookstoves through a real stove purchase experiment with randomly chosen wives, husbands and couples. Experimental results suggest that women, who often are responsible for cooking and for collecting fuelwood, reveal a higher preference than men for the improved stoves. Results also show that women who have higher decision-making autonomy and those who make the stove decision individually reveal higher WTP than those who have lower decision-making autonomy and those who make the stove decision with their husbands. A follow-up survey conducted 15 months after the stove purchase shows that autonomy does not affect stove use. Our findings highlight the importance of considering the division of labor, different preferences, and bargaining power differences within the household when promoting the adoption of new household technologies.
Yonas Alem, Sied Hassen & Gunnar Köhlin. Decision-Making within the Household: The Role of Autonomy and Differences in Preferences. EfD Discussion Paper Series DP 19-17.