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The social lives of married women: Peer effects in female autonomy and investments in children

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  • Kandpal, Eeshani
  • Baylis, Kathy

Abstract

In patriarchal societies, sticky norms affect married women's social circles, their autonomy, and the outcomes of intra-household bargaining. This paper uses primary data on women's social networks in Uttarakhand, India; the modal woman has only three friends, and over 80 percent do not have any friends of another caste. This paper examines the effect of a shock to friends' empowerment on a woman's autonomy, specifically physical mobility, access to social safety nets, and employment outside the household; perceived social norms; and an outcome of household bargaining: investments in her children. The analysis instruments for endogenous network formation using a woman's age and her caste network in the village. The key peer effect is the impact of having a friend who received an empowerment shock on a woman who did not receive that shock. The results show significant peer effects on only a few of the examined measures of women's autonomy. In contrast, peer effects exist on all considered outcomes of a daughters' diet and time spent on chores. The findings suggest a large decay rate between effects on own empowerment and peer effects. Interventions targeting child welfare through women's empowerment may generate second-order effects on intra-household decision-making, albeit with substantial decay rates, and thus benefit from targeted rather than randomized rollout. In contrast, interventions on gender roles and women's autonomy may be limited by the stickiness of social norms.

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  • Kandpal, Eeshani & Baylis, Kathy, 2019. "The social lives of married women: Peer effects in female autonomy and investments in children," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 26-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:140:y:2019:i:c:p:26-43
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.05.004
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    Cited by:

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    2. S Anukriti & Catalina Herrera‐Almanza & Praveen K. Pathak & Mahesh Karra, 2020. "Curse of the Mummy‐ji: The Influence of Mothers‐in‐Law on Women in India†," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 102(5), pages 1328-1351, October.
    3. Britta Augsburg & Bansi Malde & Harriet Olorenshaw & Zaki Wahhaj, 2021. "To invest or not to invest in sanitation: the role of intra-household gender differences in perceptions and bargaining power," IFS Working Papers W21/45, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. Alem, Yonas & Dugoua, Eugenie, 2021. "Learning from unincentivized and incentivized communication: A randomized controlled trial in India," Ruhr Economic Papers 895, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Deininger,Klaus W. & Jin,Songqing & Nagarajan,Hari Krishnan & Singh,Sudhir K., 2020. "Political Reservation and Female Labor Force Participation in Rural India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9350, The World Bank.
    6. Alison Andrew & Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg & Jere Behrman & Monimalika Day & Pamela Jervis & Costas Meghir & Angus Phimister, 2020. "Mothers’ Social Networks and Socioeconomic Gradients of Isolation," NBER Working Papers 28049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer effects; Household decision-making; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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