March 2013

IZA DP No. 7281: Intrahousehold Bargaining and the Demand for Consumer Durables in Brazil

In Brazil, wives do most of the household work. About sixty percent of them also work outside the household, working a total of about 10 hours more per week than men. Because of this unequal distribution of household work, husbands and wives might have different priorities regarding the purchase of durable goods. Although both husbands and wives enjoy entertainment durable goods, wives might have a relative preference for household-production durable goods such as washing machines over entertainment durable goods such as televisions. Using a Brazilian household consumption survey, we examine whether decisions about ownership of entertainment and production durable goods are the outcomes of a bargaining process between husbands and wives. We use several variables to measure bargaining power, including the ratio of women to men in a state. The results indicate that decisions about durable goods ownership are the outcomes of bargaining processes between husbands and wives with wives having a relative preference for household-production durable goods over entertainment durable goods compared to their husbands. Bargaining might explain why ownership of household production durable goods is relatively low in Brazil, despite their potential to save women's time.