Early Childhood Initiative Speaker Series featuring Robert Garlick

Cash Transfers, Inefficient Household Bargaining & Investment in Children’s Education

March 22, 2017
3:00 PM-4:30 PM

A large economic literature tests whether intra-household bargaining or decision-making is “efficient.” Bargaining is considered efficient if there is no way to reallocate consumption and investment that would make some household members better off without making other household members worse off. Robert Garlick, assistant professor of economics at Duke University, studied intra-household efficiency in the context of Progresa/Oportunidades, a large conditional cash transfer program in rural Mexico. ¬†He found that younger, but not older, households make systematically inefficient consumption and investment decisions. His research also showed that younger households invest systematically less of their cash transfers in children’s education, controlling for household composition and economic resources. ¬†Garlick argues that lower investment by younger households may be due to their inefficient bargaining, which effectively wastes some portion of the cash transfers. This finding can inform the design and evaluation of anti-poverty programs such as cash transfers.

Robert Garlick is an assistant professor of economics at Duke University. He holds a PhD in economics and public policy from the University of Michigan. Born and raised in South Africa, Garlick studied economics, mathematics and philosophy at the University of Cape Town and managed a small education nonprofit. He currently studies education and labor economics in developing countries and is working on peer and network effects in education, determinants of education investments by households, and transitions between education and the labor market. This work spans empirical and methodological topics and includes primary data collection in and analysis of secondary data from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.