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Within household gender inequalities in resources and entitlements: policy implications Fran Bennett, Jerome De Henau, Susan Himmelweit, Sirin Sung and.

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Presentation on theme: "Within household gender inequalities in resources and entitlements: policy implications Fran Bennett, Jerome De Henau, Susan Himmelweit, Sirin Sung and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Within household gender inequalities in resources and entitlements: policy implications Fran Bennett, Jerome De Henau, Susan Himmelweit, Sirin Sung and Holly Sutherland GeNet WHIPP workshop, 11-12 March 2010, Oxford Project 5: Within Household Inequalities and Public Policy

2 2 Outline One approach:  Identifying (dis)equalising factors in terms of economic autonomy and command over financial resources relevant to policy-making  Drawing specific implications for policy and research about gender equality and women’s autonomy Three components:  Policy simulation using POLIMOD tax-benefit microsimulation models  Quantitative analysis of BHPS data  Qualitative research based on interviews with individuals in 30 low/moderate income couples

3 3 ‘Redistribution’ through taxes and benefits  Major driver of inequality of income within working age couples is differences in earned income  in 72% of couples women have the lower original income; they receive 38% of the total overall  Gaps in income within couples can be mitigated by the effects of taxes and benefits – for example, via:  progressive income taxes  individual earnings-replacement or cost-related benefits  The size of the gap is reduced by around 14 percentage points on average  For most couples, main driver narrowing gap in incomes is income tax, followed by NICs

4 4 Role of benefits / tax credits  gap is narrowed by more if the man has the lower income  individual earnings replacement benefits: bigger role for men; cost-related benefits: similar for both  Child benefits have the largest m->f equalising effects among low income couples - if we assume that they are mothers’ income  In-work benefits widen the gap between partners’ incomes:  more for female breadwinner couples than for male breadwinner couples

5 5 Policy implications  Gaps in income within couples can be reduced by taxes and benefits – but (gendered) differences in work patterns, pay and care result in asymmetrical effects for women and men  Analysis of policy changes usually ignores both women’s role as ‘conduit’ of resources for others and any impact of changes on roles or relationships  And also treats the distribution of resources within households as an equitably resolved private issue  especially for low/moderate income couples: assumption of jointness in the assessment of means-tested benefits  also for low income partners in higher income couples

6 6 Gender analysis of household panel data  Representative BHPS data: couples’ views over time could be matched to analyse common and differing influences on man’s and woman’s satisfaction with household income  Shared views – e.g. :  Both partners were dissatisfied by man being unemployed  Both partners were dissatisfied by woman being unemployed (though less so than by the man being unemployed)  But there are also differences – e.g. :  Though both more dissatisfied by man’s unemployment than by woman’s, this was not to the same extent for woman as for man  Relatively each valued their own employment more  Why? Unemployment reduced power within household?

7 7 Shared views reinforce inequalities  Similar, though less extreme, pattern of shared and different views with respect to disability, particular employment statuses and domestic work:  On average, couple more concerned by man’s disability, less than fulltime employment status, hours of domestic work than woman’s  Relatively being disabled, not being employed FT or doing much domestic work led to less satisfaction with household income (and power over it?)  Where do such shared gendered views come from?  Recognition of external constraints?  Gender norms?  If couples act on these shared views, they may increase immediate household financial satisfaction by reinforcing gender inequalities within and beyond the household

8 8 Policy implications (1)  In practice, decisions in accord with currently shared views can have deleterious long-term consequences for women (and perhaps men)  To assess the intra-household gender effect of policies need to consider:  immediate intra-household distributional impact  as policy simulation did  and the differences in views may capture  effects on joint household decisions based on shared gendered views  behavioural impact on gender roles ( challenging or reinforcing them)  consequent effects on intra-household power and distribution NB: there may also be inter-household gendered effects

9 9 Policy implications (2)  Giving couples ‘choice’:  is not the same as giving individuals choice  may result in choices in the short-term interests of the couple rather than of the individuals within it, e.g. in case of divorce  may be against women’s long-term interests and autonomy  To challenge gender inequalities and break cycle, need to loosen the economic constraints and/or gender norms giving rise to:  shared gendered views and  differential power within the household.

10 10 Jointness in low-income couples  This may be particularly important for lower income couples, for whom jointness may be more of a necessity  Semi-structured separate interviews with members of 30 low/moderate income couples to uncover within household processes and power relations did reveal clear loyalty to sharing finances (‘all in one pot’)  Drivers: long-standing relationships; children as joint project; putting money together makes it stretch further?  Joint bank accounts not good indicator of degree of jointness; but joint finances seen as symbol of trust

11 11 But more complex picture  But underlying this was a more complex picture – e.g.:  some clear gendered inequalities in access to/use of money  some differentiation of roles along traditional lines  women more aware of tensions between togetherness and individual interests and importance of money in own right  Previous research confirms importance of source, purpose, recipient and labelling of income, and how it is managed/controlled, for how it is used and who benefits  Common pattern of man’s wage paid into joint account, benefits/tax credits paid into woman’s own account – attempt to balance resources / reflecting gender roles?

12 12 Implications for policy  Some women in low/moderate-income couples valued right to income that (e.g.) carer’s allowance gave them  But felt exploited and under-valued (seeing it as a wage)  May explain carers’ reactions to work focused interviews?  Benefits often seen as belonging to/for family; but financial deprivation for women could be due to managing role or to their desire for independence  (Gendered) unequal access to resources recognised in paying child benefit to mothers by default – but  Negative reaction to ‘main carer’ for child tax credit  May reinforce (gendered) division of labour?

13 13 Conclusions: implications for policy oriented research  Analyse impact of policy on individuals where possible, not just (e.g.) ‘net tax rate’ for families (common in UK, where income maintenance is family/poverty focused)  Examine tensions between policies based on individuals (e.g. labour market activation) and on joint assessment/ownership (benefits/tax credits)  In-kind provision may not carry same risks as income?  Consider impact of redistribution within household on longer-term roles and relationships, not just on amount of money immediately transferred


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