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The Determinants of Gender Equity in India: Examining Dyson and Moore's Thesis with New Data

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  • Lupin Rahman
  • Vijayendra Rao

Abstract

In revisiting the influential Dyson and Moore (1983) hypothesis as to why women in South India enjoy relatively more agency than in the North, we conducted an econometric analysis of the determinants of women's mobility and decisionmaking authority. Data for the study come from a household data survey carried out in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh and in the Southern state of Karnataka in 1995. We find that cross-cousin and uncle-niece marriage is more prevalent in Karnataka as expected. Contrary to Dyson and Moore, however, by 1995 a majority of communities in both North and South practiced village exogamy, and dowries in the two regions were of similar size. Reduced-form, multivariate regressions show that cultural factors affect women's autonomy in ways not earlier predicted. The impact of village exogamy is mixed rather than negative, while that of consanguinity is strongly negative rather than positive as Dyson and Moore surmised. These authors correctly identified the negative effect purdah has on female mobility. Consistent with economic theory, our data show that higher wages for women consistently improve their mobility and authority, while higher male wages decrease them. Improvements in infrastructure-particularly the presence of street lights and schools in the village-are associated with increased women's agency. We conclude, therefore, that economic factors, state action, and restrictions on mobility seem more powerful than kinship structures as explanations of differences in female autonomy between North and South India. Copyright 2004 The Population Council, Inc..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by The Population Council, Inc. in its journal Population and Development Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 239-268

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Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:30:y:2004:i:2:p:239-268

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Cited by:
  1. Emily Oster, 2006. "Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats Evenly?Health Investments and Gender Inequality in India," Working Papers id:435, eSocialSciences.
  2. Khan, Safdar Ullah & Awan, Rabia, 2011. "Contextual Assessment of Women Empowerment and Its Determinants: Evidence from Pakistan," MPRA Paper 30820, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Husain, Zakir, 2010. "Gender disparities in completing school education in India: Analyzing regional variations," MPRA Paper 25748, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Alistair Munro & Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona-Gomez & Arjan Verschoor, 2011. "Autonomy or Efficiency. An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India," GRIPS Discussion Papers 10-33, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  5. Emily Oster, 2006. "Does Increased Access Increase Equality? Gender and Child Health Investments in India," NBER Working Papers 12743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Heath, Rachel, 2014. "Women’s Access to Labor Market Opportunities, Control of Household Resources, and Domestic Violence: Evidence from Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 32-46.
  7. Siwan Anderson, 2007. "The Economics of Dowry and Brideprice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 151-174, Fall.
  8. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2007. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," NBER Working Papers 13305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Anderson, Siwan & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2009. "What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 179-191, November.
  10. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2010. "Women's Empowerment in South Asia and Southeast Asia: A Comparative Analysis," MPRA Paper 19686, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Luke, Nancy & Munshi, Kaivan, 2011. "Women as agents of change: Female income and mobility in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 1-17, January.
  12. Makino, Momoe, 2012. "Effects of birth order and sibling sex composition on human capital investment in children in India," IDE Discussion Papers 319, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).

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