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Abstract

This article analyses intrahousehold decision-making in extended households of the matrilinear Luguru community in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania. Our research focuses on the participation of adult “extended” household members, mainly relatives such as in-laws, grandparents, and cousins, in household decision-making. It complements studies that conceptualise household decision-making as a bargaining process between two decision-makers. We explore whether factors such as age, education, life cycle and gender play a role in this process. As decision-making processes often vary depending on the decision-making area, we differentiate between seven broad decision-making fields which are relevant in their respective settings. Our study adopts a qualitative approach and mainly draws upon data from primary sources, including expert interviews, life stories, participatory spider diagram exercises, and participant observation. The findings underscore the complexity of decision-making in extended household structures, with some decisions taking place within sub-units and others at the extended household level. The involvement of “extended” household members also differs according to different decision-making domains. Participation is overall more pronounced in the areas of agriculture (particularly minor decisions), money management, and child and family matters in comparison to employment outside the household and more generally labour allocation, and access/control over land/assets. Factors such as age, education level, gender, and life-cycle position of the “extended” household member are important to consider; an intersectional perspective is necessary for studies that aim to unravel intrahousehold decision-making processes.

Note on the Author

Kamille De Backer is a project manager at the non-profit organisation EVA bxl. Her areas of interest include gender, well-being, education, inclusion, social innovation, and community engaged research and learning. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Antwerp and the University of Brussels. You can contact her at kamilledebacker@hotmail.com.

Nathalie Holvoet holds a PhD in economics and is a full-time professor at the Institute of Development Policy. Her main areas of expertise are monitoring and evaluation, and gender and development. Specific research interests include community-based monitoring, cash transfers, gender budgeting, and intrahousehold allocation. She can be reached at nathalie.holvoet@uantwerpen.be.

Mursali Milanzi is a full-time academic staff member at the Department of Economics, Mzumbe University in Tanzania. He holds a PhD in economics (International Economics). His main areas of expertise include trade and development, M&E, and development and the environment. Specific research interests include trade and development policy analysis, development and environment, and social network analysis. His email address is mamilanzi@mzumbe.ac.tz.

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