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Family Decision Making and Resource Protection Adequacy


  • The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers and the participants at the 2010 American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) Annual Meetings for valuable advice and comments. The usual disclaimer applies.


This study examines the correlation between resource protection and the intrahousehold distribution of bargaining power. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, the analysis quantifies potential changes in the surviving individual's living standard to evaluate the adequacy of resource protection. Individuals who generate a larger share of family income, are more financially knowledgeable, or have the “final say” in family decisions leverage their bargaining power to secure higher protection of their hypothetical widowhood living standard. Consequently, spouses with more bargaining power are less likely to experience declines of their living standard in the event of their spouse passing away and are more likely to be overprotected.