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He Has Gone to a Better Place, but She Has Not: Health Status of Hindu Widows in India


  • Ayush Agrawal
  • Chitwan Lalji
  • Debayan Pakrashi


Using detailed individual and household-level data from the first two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted in 2004–05 and 2011–12, this paper estimates the health gap that exists between married and widowed women from Hindu households. We use the most commonly used anthropometric indicators of nutritional status in adults – body mass index and incidence of underweight – to estimate and decompose the gap in health outcomes that exists between these two groups of women. The overall results presented in this paper suggest that widows from Hindu households have significantly lower body mass index and higher incidence of underweight compared to their married counterparts and also experience high levels of discrimination. Access to various government welfare schemes and increased autonomy, however, is found to offset the detrimental health effects of widowhood to a large extent.

Suggested Citation

  • Ayush Agrawal & Chitwan Lalji & Debayan Pakrashi, 2021. "He Has Gone to a Better Place, but She Has Not: Health Status of Hindu Widows in India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(5), pages 750-771, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:57:y:2021:i:5:p:750-771
    DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2020.1802008

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    Cited by:

    1. Pragati, & Thakur, Sounak, 2023. "Mother’s widowhood and children’s education: Evidence from India," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 232(C).
    2. Hossain, Babul & James, K.S., 2024. "Economics of widowhood mortality in adult women in India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 340(C).

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