For some time now researchers at IFPRI and else where have been studying how resources are allocated within house holds in developing countries and why it matters from a policy perspective. Many social and cultural factors, as well as economic considerations, influence house hold decisions about the allocation of time, income, assets, and other resources. The recently published IFPRI book, Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Developing Countries: Models, Methods, and Policy, edited by Lawrence Haddad, John Hoddinott, and Harold Alderman, provides an excellent review of the key relationships and empirical evidence. Many studies have looked at the way resources are distributed to men, women, and especially to small children, but one age group within the family has been largely ignored: the adolescents. Adolescence is a crucial period in that teen agers can make major contributions to their families’ welfare through their labor and earnings, in and out side the household, but may sacrifice their own wishes and future well-being in the process if such contributions come at the expense of investments in their education. The research methodology in this report, combining regression analysis with ethnography, provides a lesson in how complementarities between methodological approaches can be exploited. For example, from the regression analysis one might conclude that boys leave school earlier than girls to earn money. However, close questioning of household members makes it clear that the reason many boys leave school is more cultural than economic. Poor parents with limited resources for education tend to direct those resources to the children who have a strong wish to go to school, more of ten girls than boys in the Philippine setting studied here. The research finds that parents are not unduly influenced by short-term needs and are ready to make substantial sacrifices in terms of current consumption in order to invest in their children’s future. The research also concludes that boys and girls in this rural area of the Philippines are generally treated equally, providing a contrast with other Asian settings where discrimination by gender is common.


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