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Women's Autonomy and Subjective Well-Being: How Gender Norms Shape the Impact of Self-Help Groups in Odisha, India

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Listed:
  • Thomas de Hoop
  • Luuk van Kempen
  • Rik Linssen
  • Anouka van Eerdewijk

Abstract

This paper presents impact estimates of women's self-help group (SHG) membership on subjective well-being in Odisha, India, using 2008 survey data in a quasi-experimental design. It finds that, while there is evidence of a positive impact of SHG membership on women's autonomy, on average, SHG membership does not affect subjective well-being. However, results also reveal that for members living in communities with relatively conservative gender norms among nonmembers, subjective well-being is notably lower. The authors interpret this finding as evidence that these SHG members feel a loss of identity - a problem that looms larger when women's enhanced autonomy implies a stronger violation of gender norms at the community level. In these communities, social-sanctioning mechanisms contribute to a negative impact of women's SHGs on subjective well-being, as evidenced by qualitative accounts of women's empowerment trajectories in the research area.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas de Hoop & Luuk van Kempen & Rik Linssen & Anouka van Eerdewijk, 2014. "Women's Autonomy and Subjective Well-Being: How Gender Norms Shape the Impact of Self-Help Groups in Odisha, India," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 103-135, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:20:y:2014:i:3:p:103-135
    DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2014.893388
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