Joint forces - The impact of intrahousehold cooperation on welfare in East African agricultural households

Els Lecoutere and Bjorn Van Campenhout
Working paper 2018.11


In developing countries, a lack of intrahousehold cooperation among members of smallholder agricultural households may result in the inefficient allocation of productive resources. This article estimates the impact of intrahousehold cooperation on household welfare and household public goods provision, using the random encouragement for an intervention intended to stimulate cooperation as an instrument, among smallholder coffee farming households in Uganda and Tanzania. We demonstrate that improved cooperation has substantial positive effects on household income per capita and on the likelihood of household food security. The likelihood of investing in agricultural production, an important public good in these households, is greatly increased by improved cooperation as well. The downside is that, even with an intensive coaching package, the gains in cooperation are not spectacular. We conclude that stimulating intrahousehold cooperation is a promising path to stimulate efficiency, welfare and the provision of household public goods in agricultural households; but we warn against presenting the promotion of cooperation versus strengthening women’s bargaining power as a strict policy choice as it may well be that women gain bargaining power in cooperation.

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