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Taking it in turn: an experimental test of theories of the household

Munro, Alistair and McNally, Tara and Popov, Danail (2008): Taking it in turn: an experimental test of theories of the household.

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Abstract

Using a sample of established couples, we conduct an experiment on household decision-making. Individual partners first make a series of dichotomous choices between household goods and vouchers for experiences and then the couple jointly face the same choices. A random lottery device is used to incentivize the decisions. We find clear evidence of turn-taking as a method of resolving disagreements. In other words, when one partner wins one disputed question, it raises the probability that the other partner wins the next dispute. Given the arbitrary order of the questions this suggests that standard decision-theoretic models of household behaviour are inadequate and that instead, much behaviour might be concerned with relationship maintenance rather than the allocation of goods.

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