Household and Family Decisions

Women were asked about different categories of decision-making, regarding economic as well as parental and social concerns, in order to learn about family and household relationships and women’s relative autonomy over what they view as important.
As Figure 13 displays, most currently or formerly married women report that either they, or they and their husbands together, make decisions about daily household and family needs. Only when it comes to making daily household purchases do a large number of respondents report that their husbands are the sole decision-makers (26%), and in this case women alone are just as likely to make such decisions (26%), so that control over daily household budgets can be held by either men or women among those who are married.

Decision-making power is divided very differently when it comes to major household or family issues. Although between one in three and half of respondents reported that daily household decisions can made by either the woman or her spouse alone, major family decisions are much more likely to be handled either jointly or by someone else in the family.

As shown in Figure 15, spouses tend to share decision-making about large household purchases, but that arrangement appears to be different among older respondents. A plurality of women aged 18 to 24 (45%) reports sharing such decisions, and one in four says her husband alone makes these decisions. Nine percent of young women reported that their parents or in-laws make these decisions, and just 6% of respondents said they alone were responsible for making these choices. Decision-making responsibilities largely follow this pattern for women up to age 54, although respondents 25 and over have more decision-making power than in-laws and parents. Women 55 and older are more likely than their husbands to be the decision maker in their household, though a plurality continues to make decisions jointly. From age 55 on, a substantial number of women report that their children make decisions about large household purchases; among those aged 65 and older more than one in five (22%) say so. Respondents aged 65 and older indicate that they themselves, their children, and they and their husbands share decision making power roughly equally, while their husbands are significantly less likely to make decisions alone than among younger respondents.

Women living in rural areas are significantly more likely than those in urban areas to report that their husband is the sole decision maker for all major family decisions, but the difference is only large when it comes to making large household purchases (33%  versus 15%) and buying a house (28%  versus 17%).