Working women have greater influence in the home, says study

When women who are married work, they wield more decision-making power over large household expenses, like buying a car, large appliance or furniture, according to a US study.

When women who are married work, they wield more decision-making power over large household expenses, like buying a car, large appliance or furniture, according to a US study.

If a married woman has worked in the past 12 months, the likelihood of her involvement in decisions over major household purchases with her husband increases by about five percentage points, the study from the University of Colorado Boulder found. Also, the likelihood that her husband is the sole decision maker on big buys for the home drops by about five percentage points. 

“I think it’s so important because employment is the way that most women, by and large, are going to be able to improve their own situation,” said study author and assistant professor of economics Francisca Antman about the finding.

“Bringing more economic resources to the household by women can actually improve the weight that’s given to their preferences within the household,” said Antman.

The Mexican Family Life Survey, used for the study, interviewed participating couples once in 2002 and again between 2005 and 2007. The survey results include 9,551 household observations. Virtually all of the participating households – 97 percent – were headed by men.

About 67 percent of the households reported that the woman was involved in decisions regarding large expenditures. About 31 percent reported that heads of households alone made the decisions.

In addition to answering questions about household roles, bargaining power and employment status, couples stated their education levels, ages and household sizes in the survey.

“Anytime we are making it easier for women to participate in employment activities, just as men do, we can also expect them to actually have greater influence within their households,” said Antman. “And so it’s not just a question of increasing their income, but actually increasing their influence over their own lives.”

 





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