Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.
From the NY Times on the role of women in economic development.
Duflo’s findings aren’t new that women are more likely to funnel extra money to their children. But this idea has been part of the two biggest successes in my view for household based economic development. Conditional Cash Transfers that pay women if their children attend school and microcredit that gives small loans that are typically targeted towards women.
Although maybe microcredit isn’t as great as some people think. Duflo is also behind recent research showing microcredit doesn't increase household consumption. See this link for a good summary of her recent work with her co-authors.
Thanks to my former student Kelly for forwarding the NY Times article to me.