Using vignettes to understand decision-making processes within households

Many surveys ask who in the household makes key decisions, but most fail to ask why. A new study uses vignettes to identify why certain household members make decisions in rural Senegal.

In a recent World Development paper, Tanguy Bernard, Cheryl Doss, Melissa Hidrobo, Jessica Hoel, and Caitlin Kieran investigate respondents’ perceptions of why a particular person makes key production and consumption decisions. Using data from dairy farmers in rural Senegal, the authors analyze how the identity of the decision-maker (husband, wife, or the couple together) and the rationale for decision-making are related to milk production, hemoglobin levels among children, and satisfaction with decisions. Outcomes that appear to be related to the identity of the decision-maker(s) are actually driven by decision-making typologies. The results highlight the importance of identifying not just who makes decisions but also why.

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Photo: Melissa Hidrobo/IFPRI