Wall Street Journal: The Gender of Money
When it comes to finances, women and men are alike in one way: According to a recent survey of married couples, about one-third of respondents said they had lied to their spouse about money–hiding purchases, keeping secret accounts or lying about their earnings. Men and women were equally guilty of subterfuge.
When it comes to spending household money, however, it’s a different story. Here gender makes a significant difference.
In Bangladesh, Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, creator of the micro-credit phenomenon, has found that women not only repay loans more often than men, but that when women control the money, their families were more likely to benefit from the income.
And a study in the Philippines reported that when women have control over a couple’s savings accounts, expenditures shift towards the purchase of family-targeted durable goods, such as washing machines or kitchen appliances.
In the traditional view of economists, all money is interchangeable, seamlessly fungible, and “free” from social or cultural influences. All that matters is how much money, not which money or whose money.
But money is far from impersonal. A growing body of research by sociologists and behavioral economists finds a dazzling array of cognitively, culturally and socially distinct ways in which people approach money. Some of the most intriguing differences are in the ways that women and men approach spending–and those studies are already influencing how some policy-makers and organizations around the world allocate their funds. ...