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Simister, John (1998) Women's Employment and the Ownership of Household Durable Goods in Britain and India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is concerned with the decision-making processes which take place between husband and wife. It focuses on the ownership of time-saving durable goods: why do some households own goods such as washing-machines and microwave ovens, whereas other households do not? This thesis considers three approaches to studying this issue, of which the first two are conventional in economics. The first approach assumes that a household behaves as if it had a single decision-maker (due to consensus, or because one person imposes his/her will on other household members); this suggests that ownership may be related to the price-of-time of the wife. The second approach assumes that different members of a household disagree about priorities, and bargain with each other - each attempting to obtain his/her preferred spending pattern; in this 'bargaining' approach, the wife's weekly actual or potential earnings (relative to those of her husband) may determine her success in bargaining. I also consider a third approach, associated with the sociology of Jan Pahl: that the system of financial management adopted by a household tells us about underlying structures within that household. This thesis uses survey data from Britain and India to test the above approaches. The British data are from UK government surveys - especially the British Household Panel Study, and the Family Expenditure Surveys. These give a representative picture of the whole British population, and provide data on durable goods ownership since 1969. For India, I use data from two surveys commissioned for this thesis, carried out in 1992 and 1997. The Indian survey data are limited to the four largest Indian cities (Bombay, Madras, Delhi and Calcutta) This thesis finds considerable support for Jan Pahl's approach, in both Britain and India, and recommends this as a way forward for economics.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: women's employment, durable goods, household spending, UK, India
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Ben Fine
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2009 14:35

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