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Ali Norton

Gitter/Barham’s discussion of the role women play in allocating transfer payments to the household, was interesting and logical, especially with regard to traditional gender roles. As traditionally, men are the breadwinners in a household, and women are the caretakers of the household, it seems logical that women would allocate additional resources (like transfer payments) to increasing their household utility through their children’s health and education. The author’s discussion of how women’s education enables empowerment was further interesting and reinforced the benefits of a household valuing education. The Sen chapter fit in nicely with how women's relative power to men in the household may affect decision-making and allocation of household resources. While the Gitter/Barham article discussed the results of women having education and attaining more power and the affect this has on spending and allocation of transfer payment resources to children's health and education, the Sen chapter helped clarify what may be the mechanisms behind women achieving education and a higher degree of power relative to the household and to society. Sen's discussion of the political, economic and social role of women in a developing helped to fill some of the gaps in the Gitter/Barham article about what may drive women’s attainment of education and power and consequently affect their households.

Benjamin Bayles

In my life I have never doubted that my father has my best interest in mind and, ultimately, I would always trust in his financial and investment decisions. PEA’s initiative to distribute aid through the mother demonstrates however, that in many households other children are not as fortunate. This is something I have clearly taken for granted. In harsher situations and especially among uneducated parents it is inevitable that parents will have a tendency to make more selfish decision. The fact that men may be more susceptible to this selfishness than women led me to wonder if the results found here can be extrapolated to other social programs. For example, if money can be given to mothers instead of fathers, and subsequently be spent more responsibly, could we find other programs where redistributing the aid could lead to more responsible investments?

Davis Turner

The Gitter and Barham paper brought to surface an interesting point in the discussion of women’s power involving conditional cash transfers. The argument set forth is that women empowerment through cash transfers has a positive correlation to children’s schooling and health care. The caveat was that too much women empowerment through the transfer would lead to a decline in children school enrollment. The assumption based on Basu (2006) concludes, “if women become sufficiently more powerful than men, additional female power may actually result in a decline in school enrollment.” I am unsure if powerful women truly do receive larger benefits from girls not being in school. I do not know if this conclusion is the result of promoting some sort of household equilibrium. The current power household dynamic favors men and the empowerment of women clearly has benefits. The notion that a woman having too much power is a misnomer: we have yet to see what a true household equilibrium looks like. The question becomes where the actually limit for women in terms of power are and are the terms we use to measure that power adequate?

Hugh Gooding

Gitter and Barham's paper analyzes the Social Safety Net program in Nicaragua. In their study, they hope to test the effectiveness of providing stipends to households for more frequent healthcare visits and educational participation for the household's children. The interesting aspect of the Social Safety Net program is the idea that the stipends flow to the mother of the household which lends better results to the children's nutrition, health, and education. Gitter and Barham find that this is just the case and the theory behind the Safety Net Program holds true. However, in certain cases, the theory may strengthen and weaken. For example, when the mother possesses greater human capital, the effects tend to be stronger correlating to better healthcare, nutrition, and educational participation for the children. On the other hand, when the mother is unusually more powerful or less educated in the household relative to the father, the daughters' level of educational participation decreases. This is best explained by an increase in utility that the mother gains from the daughter spending less time at school and more time in the household. This relationship applies to part of Todaro and Smith's research in Chapter 8 that "if we were able to raise incomes without ta large improvement in health and education, we could not count on that income increase being used to adequately invest in children's education and health." This is exactly the issue that Gitter and Barham experience in their research. Mothers possessing little education tend to have a negative impact on the children's educational participation and healthcare depending on the mother's level of power within the household. For policies and programs like the Social Safety Net program to succeed, countries like Nicaragua must look for other policy measures and strategies to ensure that the parent receiving the funds, in this case the mothers, contain appropriate levels of education in order for society to benefit. Gitter and Barham's research show that it is the daughters in particular who are negatively affected by the mother's lower education. Immediately, I thought to myself that these daughters will likely be mothers one day who will also receive the stipend. And if they are not reaching the proper level of education and healthcare as children, then their daughters will not benefit from the transfer system either. It is imperative for the program to break this cycle if it hopes to succeed in the long-run for all children.

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