Presenter: Nevena Kulic (EUI)

Co-authors: Alessandra Minello (EUI) and Sara Zella (University of Oxford)

When: Thursday 20th October, 13.00-15.00.

Where: Seminar Room 3, Badia Fiesolana

Abstract: Resource theory of power assumes that the economic characteristics of partners potentially influence their decision-making and bargaining power in the household with implications for individual financial wellbeing. Hence, the partner with better earning capacity is more likely to exert more power and control over decision-making, and be financially better off. Within-household inequalities, however, could derive even more from one’s access to money than one’s relative income.

Focusing on the Swiss context, this paper aims to shed light on intra-household dynamics that influence the individual satisfaction with the financial situation of married and cohabiting couples. We offer a micro sociological perspective to analyze the within-household accumulation of advantage and disadvantage between partners in the household due to money management regime practices. There is a difference between who brings in income, who spends and manages the money, and who finally benefits. Here ideological and cultural values, in particular those of men, play an important role in accumulation or balancing out of one’s initial economic power during the life course. Our aim is to study to what extent an individual satisfaction with their financial situation in the household is associated with the relative earnings of partners, the role of both partners in the management of economic resources within the household and the gender dimension of such relations. We hypothesize that a choice of shared versus individual management of economic resources levels down the differences in well-being of partners resulting from their unequal earning power.

We rely on ten waves of the Swiss Household Panel (from 2004 to 2013), a longitudinal database rich in economic, social and demographic information. The satisfaction with financial situation, the information regarding the management of the finances inside the household, and the various forms of income are the core variables of our analysis.

Our results demonstrate an important connection between individual income contributions, money management regimes, and individual financial satisfaction in Swiss households. Contrary to our expectations, however, it is separate management regime of finances that has an independent positive effect on female financial wellbeing- net of household earnings. The same does not apply to men in the households who tend to benefit from more traditional forms of money management. Also, there is some evidence that different management regimes moderate the effect of individual financial contributions on financial satisfaction, for both men and women, compensating for or creating disadvantage.