Asian women control purse strings

29 March 2013

SINGAPORE: Female consumers in Asia Pacific play the key role in managing monthly household finances, while men take more decisions on major household purchases, according to a new survey.

MasterCard, the financial services group, polled 6,904 people in 16 countries across Asia Pacific, asking them about managing household finances, savings and investments, purchases and children's education.

It found women in half of the 16 markets took charge of domestic finances. This trend was most marked in Indonesia and the Philippines, where, respectively, 56.9% and 56.7% of women managed the money.

In Myanmar, the equivalent figure was 55.2%, and in South Korea it hit 55%. Vietnam also registered 53.8% on this measure, ahead of Japan on 53.2%. China was next on 50.5%, beating Australia on 50%.

The countries least likely to see female involvement in the household finances were Bangladesh, where just over a third (34.1%) of female participants had an input in this area, and India where the figure was 42.5%.

Singapore (45.3%), Malaysia (46%) and Thailand (46.9%) also recorded comparatively low figures on this metric.

For big ticket items, men tended to make the call on purchases in ten out of 14 markets. A majority of women in South Korea (53.2%), Indonesia (52.2%) and Vietnam (50.1%), however, made such decisions.

Men were also more generally more likely to take charge in the area of savings and investments. But financial decisions around children's education were normally made by women.

"The survey shows a division of responsibilities in most households," said Georgette Tan, MasterCard's group head, communications, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

"When it comes to home finances, women are generally a force to be reckoned with – they are better at managing the budget and better at making key financial decisions that impact the family such as a child's education."

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff