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September 11, 2013

FAI Video: In Conversation with Nava Ashraf (Part 2)

By Timothy Ogden

Part of our series, In Conversation with FAI

FAI Managing Director Timothy Ogden and Harvard Business School Associate Professor Nava Ashraf continue their discussion of her commitment savings research.  In Part 2 of the conversation, they talk about inter- and intrahousehold issues, information asymmetries, and product design to encourage savings.

Transcript of the Conversation

Tim Ogden (T):  You know, we’ve talked thus far about this mainly as a problem internal to the self?  But there are these other explanations both about intra-households control and inter-household control. 

Nava Ashraf (N):  Absolutely.

T:  Um, so, before we go into sort of the depths of thatl...is your sense that intra-household issues are different and we need to think about them differently than inter-household issues?  Is this really just who has a claim on the resources, and what we can offer to help people who want to maintain control maintain control.

N:  Such an interesting question.  So the boundaries are unclear between what’s intra-household and what’s inter-household.  For example, how do we think about migrants in the families?  Do we think that’s inter-household or intra-household?  They were part of that household. Then they left, but they’re still considered part of that household.  They just have a larger information asymmetry than they did before. 

T:  Right.

N:  What about my relatives?  Sometimes they’re part of my household.  Sometimes they’re not.  And so the boundaries of households, especially in developing countries, are quite porous.  And so all in part a way of answering the question, it’s not so much how I define potentially your relationship to me-- whether you’re my spouse, whether you’re my child, whether you’re a relative, whether you’re a coworker--but rather what is the information asymmetry at work?  I would say that’s the primary factor that’s most important.  You could say, “what is my social responsibility to you?”; that gets more complicated.  I would say we can start with the very simple [question] which is, as economists would think, where are sources of information asymmetry? 

Read the Whole Transcript: Nava_Ashraf_Transcript_Part2.pdf

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