That's great - but who do you give the money to, the husband, the wife, or both? As reported in the WSJ, study after study in country after country shows that if you give cash to the women in families, much more of the money is spent on household needs than if you give it to men:
I also remember an anecdote from an NPR report - I can't find a link, but let me know if you hunt it down. When Mexican men were asked if Oportunidades should give the cash to men or women, just about every man said something like, "Well, I would spent the money responsibly, but other men would spend it on cigarettes or alcohol, so they should give it to the women."In Bangladesh, Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, creator of the micro-credit phenomenon, has found that women not only repay loans more often than men, but that when women control the money, their families were more likely to benefit from the income.And a study in the Philippines reported that when women have control over a couple’s savings accounts, expenditures shift towards the purchase of family-targeted durable goods, such as washing machines or kitchen appliances.In the traditional view of economists, all money is interchangeable, seamlessly fungible, and “free” from social or cultural influences. All that matters is how much money, not which money or whose money.But money is far from impersonal. A growing body of research by sociologists and behavioral economists finds a dazzling array of cognitively, culturally and socially distinct ways in which people approach money. Some of the most intriguing differences are in the ways that women and men approach spending–and those studies are already influencing how some policy-makers and organizations around the world allocate their funds.Last year, for instance, Haitian authorities distributed food vouchers only to women in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. They said the food would be more likely to be divided equitably within the household this way than if men got the vouchers. And Oportunidades, Mexico’s innovative anti-poverty program, successfully targets its cash transfers to mothers, conditional on their children’s school attendance and health clinic visits by family members. Follow-up studies find that the money usually goes for food, children’s clothes and school supplies.The pattern seems to transcend generations. A study by MIT economist Esther Duflo finds similar results comparing South African grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ usage of their old-age pension funds. And it’s not just a peculiar feature of developing economies. Sociologist Catherine Kenney reports that in low- to moderate-income two-parent U.S. households, children are less likely to experience food insecurity when their parents’ pooled income is controlled by their mother rather than their father.
For some reason, their response reminds me of this old riddle:
So, I'll ask the age-old question - why will women spend money on their families more willingly and reliably than men?