, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 383-401
Date: 08 Nov 2012

The influence of spouses on household decision making under risk: an experiment in rural China

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We study household decision making in a high-stakes experiment with a random sample of households in rural China. Spouses have to choose between risky lotteries, first separately and then jointly. We find that spouses’ individual risk preferences are more similar the richer the household and the higher the wife’s relative income contribution. A couple’s joint decision is typically very similar to the husband’s preferences, but women who contribute relatively more to the household income, women in high-income households, and women with communist party membership have a stronger influence on the joint decision.

We have received valuable comments from four anonymous referees, the editor (Jordi Brandts), and Francisco Alpizar, Dinky Daruvala, Jintao Xu, and seminar participants at the University of Gothenburg. Financial support from Sida to the Environmental Economics Unit at the University of Gothenburg is gratefully acknowledged.