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What about the Women? Female Headship, Poverty and Vulnerability in Thailand and Vietnam


  • Stephan Klasen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Tobias Lechtenfeld

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Felix Povel

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)


This paper investigates whether heterogeneous subgroups of female-headed households are worse off than traditional households headed by men. We analyze the determinants of consumption, shock exposure and vulnerability to poverty. Using unique panel data of over 4000 rural households from Thailand and Vietnam, we find strong signs of heterogeneity among the subgroups of female-headed households. In particular, in both countries de facto female-headed households are consumption richer and less vulnerable to poverty than households with a male head. In Vietnam de jure female-headed households are consumption poorer and more vulnerable to poverty. In Thailand de jure female-headed households do not differ significantly from male-headed households in terms of the analyzed welfare dimensions. These results show how widows and singles in Vietnam are not well protected against uncertainties. The results also indicate that differentiation by subgroups of headship is important for policy targeting and future research. We interpret this as a first step towards a more complete picture of vulnerability of female-headed households in the developing world.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Klasen & Tobias Lechtenfeld & Felix Povel, 2011. "What about the Women? Female Headship, Poverty and Vulnerability in Thailand and Vietnam," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 76, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:076

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Backiny-Yetna, Prospere & Wodon, Quentin, 2010. "Gender Labor Income Shares and Human Capital Investment in the Republic of Congo," MPRA Paper 27737, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Dreze, Jean & Srinivasan, P. V., 1997. "Widowhood and poverty in rural India: Some inferences from household survey data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 217-234, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paweenawat, Sasiwimon Warunsiri & McNown, Robert, 2014. "The determinants of income inequality in Thailand: A synthetic cohort analysis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31, pages 10-21.
    2. Michael Rogan, 2013. "Alternative Definitions of Headship and the 'Feminisation' of Income Poverty in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(10), pages 1344-1357, October.
    3. Mahadevan, Renuka & Hoang, Viet-Ngu, 2016. "The nexus between poverty and deprivation in Vietnam," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 290-303.

    More about this item


    Gender; Poverty; Shocks; Vulnerability to Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I39 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Other
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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