Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in South Africa: Its Impact on Children's Welfare

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Ahmad, Samia Mahbub
Desai, Sonalde
Title of Document: INTRAHOUSEHOLD RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA: ITS IMPACT ON CHILDREN'S WELFARE Samia Mahbub Ahmad, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Directed By: Associate Professor, Sonalde Desai, Department of Sociology This study is an analytical and empirical assessment of the impact of household structures on children's welfare using household level data from South Africa. Specifically, the thesis measures the relationship between different types of household structures and their impact on children's health, namely their height-for-age z scores. Households are classified as "Female-only" and "Mixed-gender", with the latter further differentiated as "Nuclear" and "Extended". The study thus moves beyond the traditional "male-female" headship commonly adopted in the Women in Development (WID) literature in defining households. Instead, the classification suggest that gender, kinship and other relationships characterize households and that children live not only in nuclear families but also in various forms of extended families. The study analyzes children's welfare from within the reality of these complex household structures. This framework is used to look at resource allocation impact of different household structures on children's welfare - the focus of many studies in the WID literature. It also analyzes the impact of non-tangibles on children's welfare, such as the presence of fathers and mothers - an emphasis placed in household studies in industrialized countries. While confirming the findings of the research in WID literature that "female-only" households are on average poorer compared to other types of households, the results suggest that welfare of children in "female-only" households is not protected through an expenditure-switching strategy. The impact of lower income is not compensated by a preference for higher spending on children. The results suggest that ceteris paribus, children's welfare is enhanced in family structures that have a presence of both males and females. This latter result has been confirmed in many of the household studies for industrialized countries. The analysis implies that the relationship between household structures and children's welfare is far more complex than suggested by the simple dichotomy of "male-female" headship commonly adopted in the WID literature.