Alimony Rights and Intrahousehold Allocation of Resources: Evidence from Brazil

Authors

  • Marcos A. Rangel

    1. University of Chicago
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       Funding from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology (CNPq) and from the William and Flora Hewlett Population Fellowship is gratefully acknowledged. I have benefitted from comments by Shelley Clark, V. Joseph Hotz, Vida Maralani, Robert T. Michael, Christopher McKelvey, Elizabeth Peters, Vijayendra Rao, Luis Rubalcava, John Strauss, Duncan Thomas, two anonymous referees and participants of the Applied Microeconomics Proseminar at UCLA, of the Demography Workshop at the University of Chicago, of the PAA Meeting (2003), of the NEUDC Conference (2003) and of the BREAD Conference (April 2004), in particular Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer. All remaining errors are mine. In loving memory of Lucas A. Rangel.


Abstract

Can family policy affect well-being of individuals without altering the resources available to their families? This article examines the extension of alimony rights and obligations to cohabiting couples in Brazil. For women in intact relationships, alimony rights upon dissolution should improve outside options, strengthening their negotiating positions, and increasing their influence over intrahousehold allocation of resources. Robust econometric evidence indicates that more decision power in the hands of women impacts hours worked by female adults and investments in the education of children. This suggests that family policy and models of family decision making should take intrahousehold heterogeneity of preferences into account.

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