The Power to Protect: Household Bargaining and Female Condom Use


Prof. Wendy Janssens, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Women may face systematically greater benefits than men from adopting certain technologies. Yet women often hold lower bargaining power, meaning that men’s preferences may constrain household adoption when decisions are joint. When low female bargaining power constrains adoption of the first-best technology, introducing a version of the technology that is second-best in terms of cost or effectiveness, but more acceptable to men, may increase adoption and welfare. This paper contributes the first explicit model and test of the trade-offs when introducing a second-best technology in such a setting. We conduct a field experiment introducing female condoms – which are less effective and more expensive than male condoms, but often preferred by men – in an area with high HIV prevalence. We observe an increase in the likelihood that women have sex and find strongest adoption of female condoms among women with lower bargaining power, who were previously having unprotected sex. 

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About the speaker

Wendy Janssens is Full Professor in Development Economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is a board member of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), and research fellow at the Tinbergen Institute. Previously, she held visiting positions at the Institute of Fiscal Studies in London, and the World Bank Development Economics Research group in Washington, DC. She has received numerous research grants, including a DFID-ESRC grant to study social norms and child marriage in Pakistan, an NWO-Wotro grant to study family planning, HIV/AIDS and women’s empowerment in Mozambique, and an NWO-VENI grant to study the interaction between health insurance and microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, she is leading amongst others an interdisciplinary research programme on mobile technology and universal health coverage for mothers and children in Kenya. She has extensive experience in designing and coordinating multi-disciplinary research programmes to provide rigorous and locally grounded policy advice to national and international organisations as well as governments (such as Oxfam Novib, PharmAccess Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the World Bank).



Venue: via Zoom (please contact us at seminars@merit.unu.edu for the Zoom link)

Date: 15 April 2021

Time: 12:00 - 13:00


UNU-MERIT