Why Micro-Credit May Leave Women Worse Off: Non-Cooperative Bargaining and the Marriage Game in South Asia
Micro-credit programmes targeting women continue to grow in South Asia, although research suggests that wives frequently hand over loans to their husbands. Women may also be unable to control the income generated by micro-enterprises. This article presents an intra-household bargaining model explaining these findings and showing how credit may leave women worse off, while benefiting men. This game-theoretic model also shows why a woman might rationally choose to give her loan to her husband even though she does not expect to benefit and knows he may not repay. Finally, the article identifies the conditions necessary for micro-credit to benefit women.