I’ve been reading a great deal recently about the linkages between food availability, intra-household resource allocation, and nutritional status, and it’s made me wonder about time-specific determinants of resource allocation. That is, it’s clear that there are some systematic, long-term differences in allocation connected to overall education levels, overall income, and gender. What I’m curious about are short-term, potentially more idiosyncratic effects: for instance, are women more or less likely to command adequate nutrition if they fall ill? Are there differences between the amount of food received at home by, say, a young child in school (potentially also benefiting from a school lunch program) and an older child who drops out to care for younger ones or help in the fields? How much would one discount future education (for the young child) versus immediate ability to do work in that case, and how might one be able to change that calculus if it weren’t a long-term beneficial one?
The obvious connection to pro-poor financial services lies in the oft-noted social “shock” of women suddenly receiving access to credit when they previously had none, which disrupts existing allocation schemes and may result in tension or violence between women and their relatively disempowered husbands. I can think of a few specific predictors of violence or generally negative reactions in this case – a history of prior violence being the most obvious one, or a husband’s unemployment, or a cultural injunction against women handling money – but I wonder if there are other traits that could be used to predict whether men might react poorly to women’s credit, and perhaps develop plans to defuse this scenario. I’ll have to think some more about this. The intersection between culture and credit is a fraught and fascinating one.