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Nature and impact of women's participation in economic activities in rural Bangladesh: insights from household surveys


  • Hossain, Mahabub

    (International Rice Research Institute (IRRI))

  • Bose, Manik Lal

    (International Rice Research Institute (IRRI))

  • Ahmad, Alia

    (Department of Economics, Lund University)


Based on household-level data collected in 1987 and 2000 this paper first depicts the patterns and trends in women´s work and secondly, analyses the factors that work behind gender division of labour in rural Bangladesh. An empowerment index is developed from the data on household decision-making in different spheres, and its relationship with women´s work is then explored. The persistent gender division of labour in rural Bangladesh has been found to be associated with both economic factors - wage rates, access to production factors like land, micro credit, infrastructure) and socio-cultural factors - norms and customs regarding women´s mobility and gender role in production and reproduction. Economic activities within the household have been found to have weak impact on empowerment. Two policy implications emerge from the study: 1. Promotion of female education to enable women to take part in market activities in the non-agricultural sector where gender disparity in earnings is less. 2. Investment in infrastructure that can facilitate women´s mobility outside the household as well as can reduce the burden of domestic work.

Suggested Citation

  • Hossain, Mahabub & Bose, Manik Lal & Ahmad, Alia, 2004. "Nature and impact of women's participation in economic activities in rural Bangladesh: insights from household surveys," Working Papers 2004:20, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2004_020

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, March.
    2. Jordans, E. H. & Zwarteveen, M. Z., 1997. "A well of one's own: gender analysis of an irrigation program in Bangladesh," IWMI Books, Reports H020806, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1978. "Rural Wages, Labor Supply, and Land Reform: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 847-861, December.
    4. Jordans, Eva H. & Zwarteveen, Margreet Z., 1997. "A well of one's own: gender analysis of an irrigation program in Bangladesh," IWMI Books, International Water Management Institute, number 113611.
    5. Bardhan, Pranab K, 1979. "Labor Supply Functions in a Poor Agrarian Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 73-83, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Greg Seymour & Maria S. Floro, 2016. "Identity, Household Work, and Subjective Well-Being among Rural Women in Bangladesh," Working Papers id:11520, eSocialSciences.
    2. Niels-Hugo Blunch & Maitreyi Bordia Das, 2015. "Changing norms about gender inequality in education: Evidence from Bangladesh," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(6), pages 183-218, January.
    3. Anonymous & Manzanilla, D. & Tatlonghari, G. & Labios, Romeo V. & Cueno, A. & Villanueva, D., 2011. "Guide to participatory varietal selection for submergence-tolerant rice," IRRI Books, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), number 164421.

    More about this item


    ender division of labour; empowerment;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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