Intergenerational Intra-Household Economics: Three Essays On Parents And Offspring

Other Titles


The bulk of the literature on intra-household allocation discusses the relationship, power, and division of family resources between husband and wife. Seeking a wider understanding of family, researchers have broadened their scope to an intergenerational level, the dynamics of a parent and child are the focus of the first two papers: the first a two-stage theoretical discussion, and the second an empirical cross-sectional study. The third paper is a companion piece to the second, using the fieldwork as a case study. Paper 1 Intra-household literature focuses on bargaining power between husbands and wives, but does not consider the process between parents and children. The bequest literature asks how parents pass on wealth to their children but generally ignores the possibility that later in life parents may be codependent with children. Drawing on both arenas of family analysis, I present a model representing the nature of negotiation that may happen between parent and child: in stage one the parent is the sole decision maker, and then in stage two the child grows to participate in the bargaining process. The education decision the parent made in stage one affects the second period outcome; the child has more bargaining power with higher levels of education. A simplified analysis is done first with purely selfish participants, and then with a purely altruistic parent in a bequest model. These two extreme models are combined to form a model with both self-interested and altruistic components accruing to parent and child, a more realistic scenario. The contrasting models of a purely selfish parent with a purely altruistic parent provide insight as to how an intermediate result emerges in this model, which incorporates both characteristics. I conclude with a discussion of what would happen if a separation option is available, interpreted as an alternative wage scheme under migration. Paper 2 Within the literature on intra-household allocation I discuss a new population: teenage mothers and their mothers in Salvador, Brazil. A household survey and experimental games are the techniques used to analyze decision-making. A trust game tests for efficiency, and another game elicits valuations of a counting book, a newly introduced educational toy, to test for bargaining at the population level. While the experimental good is not representative of all elements comprising a baby's welfare, nor do these interactions purely reflect all household bargaining, this new method of analysis can be helpful when deciding policy for welfare transfers when endogeneity complicates econometric technique or when impoverished families are omitted from standard analysis due to a lack of private goods. At the population level, I find little evidence of bargaining, and Pareto efficient families' willingness to pay for the counting book is lower than the others'. The variety of behavior in the games suggests multiple family structures, some outside the typical models, and responses to the sociological questions included in the survey indicate complexity of household dynamics. Paper 3 Tension has long existed between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, but there is a movement to reconcile them within development research practices. This is an ongoing process, seeping into mainstream development economics, but instruction of qualitative methods for economists is not emphasized. Besides making a case for qualitative methodology, I also offer my research in Salvador, Brazil, as a case study that highlights how qualitative and quantitative research can interact to inform policy. I employ both quantitative and qualitative research to determine the family structure of teen mothers who live with their mothers. I also use both techniques to identify risks faced by their children. Then qualitatively I analyze the three models of social support offered to teen mothers in Salvador: community groups, home visits, and conditional cash transfers. Considering the children's risks and family structure, I conclude with suggestions of how the Brazilian government can coordinate social efforts through the Bolsa Familia program.

Journal / Series

Volume & Issue



Date Issued




Household Economics; Teen Mothers; Brazil


Effective Date

Expiration Date




Union Local


Number of Workers

Committee Chair

Basu, Kaushik

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Benjamin, Daniel
Beneria, Lourdes
Sahn, David Ezra

Degree Discipline


Degree Name

Ph. D., Economics

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

Related Version

Related DOI

Related To

Related Part

Based on Related Item

Has Other Format(s)

Part of Related Item

Related To

Related Publication(s)

Link(s) to Related Publication(s)


Link(s) to Reference(s)

Previously Published As

Government Document




Other Identifiers


Rights URI


dissertation or thesis

Accessibility Feature

Accessibility Hazard

Accessibility Summary

Link(s) to Catalog Record