Household savings and present bias among Chinese couples: A household bargaining approach
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Family savings is crucial to long-term wellbeing for all members in a household, particularly in a Chinese context where costs of living increasingly shift from government to individuals. Savings are typically examined as a balance of financial behaviors and spending preferences; however, this study highlights how savings in a family context is also a function of relationship status. Drawing on intra-household bargaining models, we analyze data from the 2014 China Family Panel Studies to examine the extent to which men's and women's relative power in the household explain variation in savings levels across families. Our findings indicate that women's greater bargaining positions (e.g., income and assets) correspond with greater savings for the family. However, such bargaining power constitutes a net negative for family savings when women have both greater relational power and higher spending preferences. We suggest that family savings can and should be understood as an outcome of dynamic bargaining conditions in addition to income factors.