Francesca Fiori, Anna Laura Zanatta

Money, Power, and Couple Conflicts

  • Abstract

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The article deals with the issue of conflict within couples concerning expenditure and its relationship with each partner's decision-making power. According to data drawn from the 2003 Istat survey on family and social subjects, which is part of the Gender and Generations Programme (Pau-Unece), spending money is the most frequent reason for conflict among Italian couples. With reference to the existing economic and sociological literature on the issue, it is hypothesized that the presence and the frequency of conflict between partners over money expenditure are related not only to the overall amount of family economic resources, but also to the balance of power within the couple. In this perspective, particular attention is devoted to the presence of indicators of women's economic autonomy, such as the existence of personal income, the possession of a personal bank account and/or other economic and cultural resources. Consistently with this approach, the authors assume that the decisional weight of each partner over household expenditure is a result of a negotiation process within the couple, related to existing personal resources and the power relationship between the partners.

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