You are here

Call for Papers

Inequality within Couples: On the Origin and Relevance of the Intra-Household Distribution of Economic Resources


The question of "who gets what?" is fundamental in the debate around economic inequality in the social sciences and for society in general. To answer this question, the definition and unit of analysis of "who" is crucial. Often the household is considered as the appropriate unit of analysis, in particular when considering coresiding partners. Thereby, households are (implicitly) assumed to be unitary and intra-household inequality is ignored. However, a growing literature shows that intra-household inequality can be substantial and needs to be considered to understand the distribution of individual life chances —especially from a gender perspective. With the rise in economic independence of women, increasingly individualised romantic unions, and historically low union stability, the intra-household distribution of economic resources such as earnings and wealth can be expected to have changed. At the same time, the intra-household distribution of economic resources may have gained more relevance in the last decades. Recently, new data have become available that allow studying these intra-household inequality in more detail. Still, relatively little research explicitly considers intra-household inequality.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars from different disciplines - including but not limited to economics, law, social psychology, and sociology - to stimulate discussion of innovative research projects that deal with intra-household inequality in economic resources in couple households with and without children. Questions that may be addressed include: How much economic inequality is there within couples? To what extent are economic resources shared in couples? How does inequality change over historical time and over life courses? What shapes the within-household distribution of resources? How does the distribution of resources within households relate to individuals’ values, wellbeing, and behaviour? What are the implications of inequalities for social policy and family law? We invite quantitatively and qualitatively oriented empirical contributions. Research using a historically or cross-nationally comparative perspective is especially welcome.

Confirmed speakers include Siobhan Austen (Curtin University), Fran Bennett (Oxford University), Debora Price (University of Manchester), and Eva Sierminska (LISER). We invite the submission of abstracts (not more than 600 words) for presentations at the workshop by 15 May 2018. You will be notified about the acceptance of your abstract by 1 June 2018. Please send your submissions to mywealth [at]

The workshop is free of charge. Travel and accommodation costs cannot be covered.

The workshop is organised by the Emmy Noether Research Group MyWealth funded by the German Research Foundation at the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne.