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Gender Inequalities in the 21 st Century Within Household Inequalities: Couple Finances 26-27 March 2009 Togetherness and Autonomy in Low/Moderate Income.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender Inequalities in the 21 st Century Within Household Inequalities: Couple Finances 26-27 March 2009 Togetherness and Autonomy in Low/Moderate Income."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender Inequalities in the 21 st Century Within Household Inequalities: Couple Finances March 2009 Togetherness and Autonomy in Low/Moderate Income Couples Fran Bennett (University of Oxford) and Sirin Sung (Queens University Belfast)

2 Introduction GeNet project 5: Within Household Inequalities and Public Policy Not mixed methods project, but multi- method, with joint working throughout Presentations draw on all elements: analysis of qualitative and quantitative data and policy simulation

3 The family is a key site of distribution (of resources, time and labour), but is often a black box which is not investigated and within which equality is assumed Aims of project: To explore alternative approaches to understanding the behavioural and distributional impact of policy change which take account of gender inequalities in power and influence within the household To use such approaches to analyse the effects of actual and potential changes in fiscal, social security and associated labour market policies

4 Outline of workshop Gendering togetherness and financial autonomy in low/moderate income couples The pursuit of collective household interests may differentially limit individuals current and/or future autonomy Factors influencing entitlements to household resources can result in unequal financial autonomy for men and women Influence of tax/benefits system on these inequalities

5 Outline of this presentation Qualitative research: method and sample Understanding of (financial) autonomy: economic independence and agency Challenges to emphasis on autonomy Drivers to togetherness in these couples Exploration of aspects of financial autonomy from gendered perspective Reflections, issues and future plans

6 Method and sample Semi-structured, separate interviews with members of 30 couples (almost all married) Time-limited sample from BHPS/ECHP (booster), interviewed in 2006 Male/female couples, mostly both members of working age, have had child/ren at some time In England, Wales, Scotland (not N Ireland) Low/moderate income – largely on means- tested benefits/tax credits now and/or in past

7 Financial autonomy Autonomy: ability to determine life Financial autonomy defined as economic independence and/or agency with money: - lack of dependence on/control by partner - agency: decisions/actions related to household income + personal projects Data based on what interviewees said Focus on gender perspective

8 Togetherness Challenges to emphasis on autonomy Strong loyalty to mutuality/family unit Drivers to togetherness are strong: -low/moderate income (make £ stretch) -children as joint project -couples have stayed together All in one pot, no yours and mine, team (Sonnenberg: all in one pot figurative?)

9 Economic independence Making a contribution: link with family survival more likely for men, self-esteem more likely for women: Money wise my wages is very important to me, I need to be bringing in something to contribute. Its not necessary, we could live on his wage if we wanted to, but I need to work to contribute to bring in a little bit in doing something. It is emotionally very important to me. (case 11, female) Money in your own right: likely to be less imp- ortant for men, or seen as antithetical to sharing / an issue for women (more aware of tensions)

10 Men/women: view of independence differs You can spend on what you like, if you need something you can buy what you like. (case 22, male) To me its quite important, yes, I think you need to be... have a little bit of independence in whatever you do. (case 27, female) Privacy: more women had individual accounts; but some men saw this choice as selfishness if applied to themselves

11 Agency: access to household income Womens management of joint pool of household income as compensation? Agency in relation to household money management: women may take/hand over Joint account access may be problematic (Degree of) autonomy in gendered spending areas: Im bills, shes food Not having to ask important for women

12 Agency: income for personal projects On low incomes, little to spare anyway Most did not have to justify personal spending Womens spending on family as personal? Concern for others/connectedness as expression of autonomy/agency More women only spend own incomes For some women, maintenance of autonomy at price of living standard

13 Reflections Togetherness subscribed to by most But more unitary than gender equal? Men more likely to see little to disturb togetherness and/or autonomy as threat Women managed togetherness? but often also had aspirations for autonomy/agency But more difficult in low income families (joint assessment and private childrearing)

14 Issues and future plans Focus so far on gendering togetherness and (financial) autonomy – men/women One partners autonomy limiting others? - link to inequality (including some women giving men pocket money, keeping their debit cards, buying their clothes etc.) Link perceptions with demographic info Togetherness/autonomy couple typology?

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