Working Paper No. 10-15

International Migration, Spousal Control, and Gender Discrimination in the Allocation of Household Resources
Francisca M. Antman
December 2010


This paper considers how parental migration affects the allocation of resources within the household while a parent is away and after he has returned. To overcome problems associated with the endogeneity of migration, I use a difference-in-difference regression model as well as longitudinal data on household expenditures and decision-making over time. Overall, the evidence suggests that having a father migrate to the U.S. decreases the fraction of expenditures spent on boys relative to girls in both education and clothing while the father is away. After the father has returned to Mexico, however, the fraction of expenditures spent on boys rises, going beyond the initial allocation. At the same time, data on household decision-making reveal that the household head is more likely to report that he alone makes expenditure decisions for his children when he has had a recent migration spell. These results are consistent with a story in which paternal migration results in a shift in household decision-making power toward women who in turn shift resources to girls while fathers are absent; but upon a father’s return, more resources are spent on boys.

JEL classification: O15, F22, D13, J16
Keywords: education; migration, intrahousehold allocation, gender discrimination.