In household decision making, strategic use of private information by spouses is often a source of inefficient outcomes. For transnational households – where one spouse temporarily migrates for work – this information asymmetry is further exacerbated and can reduce the development impact of such migration. Direct communication between spouses is often the only source of sharing information within the transnational household. Analyzing spousal communication, specifically the decision to hide or reveal information, is essential to understanding information asymmetry in this setting, however it has been constrained by the difficulty of observing spousal communication outside of lab or lab-in-field settings.
I conduct a novel randomized controlled trial to study spousal communication and information sharing among temporary Filipino migrant workers in the UAE and their spouses in the Philippines. Migrants and their spouses take part in a financial reporting activity to improve awareness about the experience of Filipino migrant workers in the UAE and their spouse’s who stay behind in the Philippines. Both migrants and spouses are surveyed about their financial, employment and living conditions. I experimentally vary whether the information reported by a respondent will be observable to their spouse. Any differential reporting about the migrant or household experience between the treatment and control groups is therefore caused by spousal observability of the reported information and represents strategic misreporting.