Empowering Women with Micro Finance: Evidence from Bangladesh
This article examines the effects of men's and women's participation in micro credit programs on various indicators of women's empowerment using data from a special survey carried out in rural Bangladesh. These credit programs are well suited to studying how gender-specific resources alter intrahousehold allocations because they induce differential participation by gender through the requirement that only one adult member per household can participate in any micro credit program. Empowerment is formalized as an unobserved latent variable reflecting common components of qualitative responses to a large set of questions pertaining to women's autonomy and decision-making power. The empirical methods are attentive to various sources of endogeneity, and the results are consistent with the view that women's participation in micro credit programs helps to increase women's empowerment. The effects of male credit on women's empowerment were generally negative.
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