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Within-household inequalities and public policy Fran Bennett, Sue Himmelweit and Holly Sutherland with Sirin Sung ESRC Gender Equality Network Project.

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Presentation on theme: "Within-household inequalities and public policy Fran Bennett, Sue Himmelweit and Holly Sutherland with Sirin Sung ESRC Gender Equality Network Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Within-household inequalities and public policy Fran Bennett, Sue Himmelweit and Holly Sutherland with Sirin Sung ESRC Gender Equality Network Project 5 (GeNet Conference, Cambridge December)

2 Introduction Overview of project as a whole Qualitative research: aims, methods, sample, interview guide Preliminary findings: dealing with money; coupledom vs. autonomy; benefits and tax credits Conclusions and challenges

3 Within household inequalities and public policy – project 5 The family is a key site of distribution (of resources, time and labour), but is often a black box which is not investigated and in which equality is assumed. Aims: To explore alternative approaches to understanding the behav- ioural & distributional impact of policy change which take account of gender inequalities in power & influence in the household To use such approaches to analyse the effects of actual and potential changes in fiscal, social security and associated labour market policies. Methods: qualitative and quantitative research, policy simulation.

4 Qualitative research: overview Aim to identify policy-relevant factors influencing gendered division of power Qualitative research: uncover within- household processes; identify indicators of intra-household division of power and wellbeing; suggest possible distributional factors to test; and investigate gendered impact of recent + potential policy changes in benefits/tax credits/labour market policy

5 Qualitative research: sample Semi-structured, separate interviews with members of 30 low/moderate income couples Sample from BHPS/ECHP (booster) Heterosexual couples, at least one of working age, who have had children at some point In England, Wales, Scotland (not N Ireland) If possible, in receipt of means-tested benefits/tax credits now and/or in past

6 Stages of research Interview guide drafted and revised Interviews piloted (in east Oxford) Access, letters, and vouchers, via ISER Issues in arranging and going to interviews Expectations of interviewees Difficulties of separate interviews at home Questionnaire (from Living in Britain)

7 Interview guide Factual information: catching up on BHPS Income coming in, purpose, use of Budgeting, bank accounts, credit/borrowing, savings Money and children Money in own right, personal spending Overall organisation of money General decision-making (incl. housework) Benefits and tax credits

8 Findings: dealing with money Differential factual awareness men/women Unitary, not equality? eg all in one pot Continuity of gendered patterns eg mens pocket money; Im bills, shes food etc Management vs control nuanced, complex Personal spending: gendered difference? Saving: men dismiss it, women fail at it?

9 Coupledom and autonomy In tension; joint or individual focus may be useful in terms of power? Money in your own right: meaning- less to many men Benefits (incl. disability/carers) give independent income to some women

10 Findings: benefits/tax credits Speculative questions often difficult Child benefit: taken for granted as is Main carer concept (child tax credit) disliked by many men & few women More support for splitting payment of benefit for adults than for children.

11 Conclusions & challenges Analysis of money management/gender and savings carried out; analysis of couples relationships, benefits/tax credits to do Investigate information in BHPS and questionnaire in relation to same couples Develop indicators of autonomy? Consider relationship to quantitative and policy simulation elements of research

12 Differential factual awareness: We have a joint account…..I am not sure if we have any savings account. I dont think we do. (The woman, Case 30) We have a joint account and we have several ISAs [savings account]. We have a joint ISA and one for each [ie two individual ISAs]. (The man, Case 30) Idealism versus practicality on joint accounts: If youre a couple, you have to trust each other. If you are committed to each other, it shouldnt be any problem. (Case 10, Female) It identifies the source for, yes the source for paying all the necessary household bills that are done regularly, as I say your basic living things, …like council tax, water, gas, electric etc. (Case 20, Male)

13 Male breadwinning, female pin-money? Most of his [her partners wage] sort of keeps the house ticking over, mine is as I said before just really for big expenditure, as I said washing machine or fridge or something, or if there isnt enough left in the sort of pool, but mainly its for the luxuries. Mine doesnt contribute to the household really, not really no, because it is for holidays and stuff, so its not really… yes, extra things. (Case 20) Personal spending: gendered difference: Yes I play golf, but that costs me £7.30 every week, thats it, out of my wages, I want £7.30 thats mine, thats rightfully mine. (Male, Case 12) I go to my Aunties up the road. Its a thing I did after I had the third child just so I had that couple of hours to myself really…And he [her husband] goes to golf on a Saturday, so its fair, really, you know. (Female, Case 12)

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