International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) (Intra-household time-use and income)

His and Hers, time and income: How intra-household dynamics impact nutrition in agricultural households

PI: Jennifer Twyman
Partners: Pilar Useche (University of Florida), Carolina Gonzalez (CIAT), Elise Talsma (CIAT)
Start date: 1 January 2017
Duration: 24 months
Value: £249,984
Countries of research: Guatemala

Project summary

Choice experiments are designed and reconceptualised to better portray intra-household dynamics and to understand how farm-household decision-making processes combine with income/price incentives, nutrition knowledge, household characteristics and time use constraints to shape food choices. Methodologically, using observational data to identify how household structure and members’ preferences affect food and care-time choices is difficult. First, food choices at the individual level are generally not observable (in surveys, a household member may recall general household consumption but not what each person ate). In a similar way, time allocation at the individual level and within the household is hard to observe; therefore it is unknown how income increases (or other incentives) may change individual allocations of time and food, and how this results in overall changes in household consumption patterns. Second, the most popular methods used to explain household dietary diversity rely on regression analysis of the household dietary diversity index (HDDI) using explanatory factors such as the gender of the household head (to capture the differences in choices by men and women), and a dummy for whether the household head works off-farm or not (to control for main occupation), which have several drawbacks. On the one hand, the gender of the household head may have nothing to do with the gender of the person making food and care-time choice decisions. Indeed, the gender of the household head may be correlated with wealth and if this factor is not included, researchers may find a spurious correlation between male “headedness” and higher diversity. On the other hand, whether working off-farm influences nutrition may depend on income and time-allocation effects, which may strongly differ by the gender of the household member.

This project uses experiments and economic rewards to study nutrition as the result of choices taken within the farm-household as a system, rather than at the individual level. It aims to further adapt empirical econometric methods to account for the correlation among choices of household members and apply the methodology to identify specific links between agriculture and nutrition. In particular, women’s and men’s time use effect on nutrition is examined from two perspectives. On one hand, an increase in their time use in productive, income generating agricultural activities could increase household income and thus food expenditures and in this way improve nutrition. On the other hand, their time spent in productive activities may reduce the time they spend on care activities, including food preparation and sanitation activities, and as such could have an adverse effect on nutrition. This study addresses those impacts by examining the inter-dependent nature of the choices that couples or other principal decision-makers in the household make.