Income disparity and norms relating to intra-household financial organisation in the UK: a dimensional analysis

Stefanie Sonnenberg, C. Burgoyne, D. Routh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the impact of income disparity on social norms regarding intra-household financial organisation. Results are reported from an experiment using hypothetical choice scenarios. Brief vignettes were used depicting hypothetical couples at the transition to marriage and to parenthood. Each participant (N = 400) responded to two brief vignettes depicting one hypothetical couple about to get married and another approaching the birth of a first child. The relative income of the hypothetical partners was varied across vignettes. Respondents selected the form of financial organisation they considered ‘best’ for each couple from a list of six different money management systems (adapted from Pahl, 1989), provided a reason for their choice and indicated which partner (if either) should have greater access to personal spending money. Whilst the ‘joint pool’ was most frequently chosen as the best system of financial organisation, a series of correspondence analyses revealed significant associations between the income disparities depicted in the vignettes and the money management systems chosen. Analysis suggested that the normative dimensions underlying these choices related to notions of equality/disparity and (inter)dependence/autonomy. Income disparities were also associated with views on personal spending money in the transition to marriage. The findings and their broader implications are discussed with reference to gender and the potential explanatory role of income disparity in accounting for gender differences in access to household monetary resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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