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What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh

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  • Anderson, Siwan
  • Eswaran, Mukesh

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of female autonomy within households in a developing country. In particular, we investigate the relative contributions of earned versus unearned income in enhancing women's autonomy and the role of employment outside of their husband's farm. In a simple theoretical model, it is demonstrated that earned income could be more important than unearned income in empowering women. Using data from rural Bangladesh, empirical estimations confirm this prediction and also reveal the surprising fact that it is not employment per se but employment outside their husbands' farms that contributes to women's autonomy. The data also point to the importance of choosing the correct threat point in theoretical analyses of female autonomy.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Siwan & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2009. "What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 179-191, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:90:y:2009:i:2:p:179-191
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