Sternberg, Henrike Steinert, Janina Vollmer, Sebastian
Year of Publication:
Discussion Papers No. 279
This paper examines the role of spousal trust in intra-household decision making through its potential of inciting the creation of information asymmetries in the presence of resource unobservability. We experimentally elicit spousal trust and trustworthiness by means of a binary trust game to assess heterogeneity in saving behavior among lowincome slum dwellers in urban India. 360 married couples were randomly assigned to either a control group, receiving a shared saving device (a lockbox), or a treatment group, receiving a private saving device (a zip-purse) in addition to the lockbox. We find that the supplementary receipt of the private device significantly increased the wife's savings in couples with a low level of spousal trust. In couples with higher levels of trust, the effect coefficient turned negative. While this heterogeneity is driven by the wife's mistrust in absence of her husband's trustworthiness, we provide supportive evidence of an important channel being more effective hiding of the wife's savings amounts, facilitated through the private saving device. From a policy perspective, our findings have important implications for the design and evaluation of household-based (saving) interventions by offering a novel explanation for existing discrepancies between their observed and intended effects.
Spousal Trust Household Decision Making Saving Interventions Income Hiding Behavior Trust Game