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Does microfinance empower women? Evidence from self-help groups in India

  • Ranjula Bali Swain
  • Fan Yang Wallentin

Microfinance programmes like the Self Help Bank Linkage Program in India have been increasingly promoted for their positive economic impact and the belief that they empower women. However, only a few studies rigorously examine the link between microfinance and women's empowerment. This article contributes to this discussion by arguing that women's empowerment takes place when women challenge the existing social norms and culture, to effectively improve their well-being. It empirically validates this hypothesis by using quasi-experimental household sample data collected for five states in India for 2000 and 2003. A general model is estimated by employing appropriate techniques to treat the ordinal variables in order to estimate the impact of the Self Help Group (SHG) on women's empowerment for 2000 and 2003. The results strongly demonstrate that on average, there is a significant increase in the empowerment of women in the SHG members group. No such significant change is observed however, for the members of the control group. The elegance of the result lies in the fact that the group of SHG participants show clear evidence of a significant and higher empowerment, while allowing for the possibility that some members might have been more empowered than others.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Review of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 541-556

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Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:23:y:2009:i:5:p:541-556
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  1. Martin Browning & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 1994. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: a General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Department of Economics Working Papers 1994-02, McMaster University.
  2. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 949, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Beatriz Armendariz & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "The Economics of Microfinance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262512017, June.
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