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Inside the black box: Intra-household resource allocations of older couples

Project description

The context of this project is a policy environment that has encouraged private, individual superannuation and savings as the preferred approach for funding retirement. As a result, older individuals are increasingly tasked with managing financial and other resources to ensure the provision of their health, care and other needs. Decisions made in older couple households about the use of household resources are increasingly important for both the individuals in these households and the broader economy. Despite this little is known about the patterns of ownership and control of resources within older couple households, the methods by which older couples manage household resources, or the policy-relevant factors that link older couples’ ownership, control and management of household resources with their health and well-being.

The broad aims of this research are to identify the effects of policy-relevant variables on the ownership, control and management of resources (income, wealth and time) within older couple households and to assess whether these variables serve to sustain or diminish gender inequalities within and outside the household. In detail, the project aims to:

  1. Develop and implement a theoretical and empirical approach appropriate to the needs and circumstances of older households, including their reliance on accumulated assets and government transfers, the importance of divestment rather than savings decisions, and rising health and aged care needs.
  2. Contribute to international and national research on intra-household resource allocation, gender equity and the effects of extra-household, policy-relevant, institutional variables.
  3. Contribute to evidence-based policy by exploring the opportunities for and barriers to the translation of project findings into policy and budget processes.

The project will examine the above issues of theory and policy by systematically investigating and answering the following research questions.

  1. How is the ownership, control and management of resources distributed between men and women in older couple households and does this affect their entitlements?
  2. How do institutional variables, including those related to gendered social norms and the legal framework, affect the entitlements of men and women in older households?
  3. What are the links between unpaid labour and the entitlements of men and women in older households?
  4. How can the research findings be effectively translated into policy and budget processes that will enhance gender equality and promote the wellbeing of older Australians?