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The Intrahousehold Disadvantages Framework: A Framework for the Analysis of Intra-household Difference and Inequality

Vincent J. Bolt
Kate Bird


The purpose of this paper is to introduce the IDF (Intrahousehold Disadvantages Framework) which provides researchers with a set of practical tools to analyse intra-household differentiation. We feel that this is necessary if researchers are to be able to present more accurate findings. Numerous culturally, temporally and spatially specific dimensions of social difference affect intra-household decision-making and resource allocation. To date, development research has tended to focus on gender. A strong literature and a wealth of approaches have been developed to assess the impact of socially determined gender roles and subordination on the individual and on development interventions. This provides a strong starting point in the development of tools to help in the systematic analysis of other forms of social difference, for example, age, birth order, physical and mental disability, illness, and relationship to household head. Until now most research into these areas has relied on inductive research which has focused on the problems of a specific group (e.g. older people). This has tended to generate descriptive findings which have rarely contextualised individuals from these groups within their households or sufficiently acknowledged either the differentiation within groups or the overlaps between groups. The focus on individual forms of disadvantage has tended to result in the 'bidding up' the problems faced by a particular group vis a  vis another, rather than building an holistic understanding of social difference. The frameworks we present in section 4 of this paper are intended to provide the starting point for such holistic analysis.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


poverty dynamics intergenerational transmission of poverty social relations livelihoods conflict

ISBN: 1-904049-31-1


The Intrahousehold Disadvantages Framework PDF 845.5 KB

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