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Empowering Women through Education and Influence: An Evaluation of the Indian Mahila Samakhya Program


  • Kandpal, Eeshani

    () (World Bank)

  • Baylis, Kathy

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Arends-Kuenning, Mary P.

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


This paper shows that participation in a community-level female empowerment program in India significantly increases participants' physical mobility, political participation, and access to employment. The program provides support groups, literacy camps, adult education classes, and vocational training. We use truncation-corrected matching and instrumental variables on primary data to disentangle the program's mechanisms, separately considering its effect on women who work, and those who do not work but whose reservation wage is increased by participation. We also find significant spillover effects on non-participants relative to women in untreated districts.

Suggested Citation

  • Kandpal, Eeshani & Baylis, Kathy & Arends-Kuenning, Mary P., 2012. "Empowering Women through Education and Influence: An Evaluation of the Indian Mahila Samakhya Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6347, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6347

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katsushi Imai & Per A. Eklund, 2008. "Women's Organizations and Social Capital to Reduce Prevalence of Child Malnutrition in Papua New Guinea," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 209-233.
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    4. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    5. Handa, Sudhanshu, 1996. "Expenditure behavior and children's welfare: An analysis of female headed households in Jamaica," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 165-187, June.
    6. Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 5-86, March.
    7. Edwin Leuven & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "PSMATCH2: Stata module to perform full Mahalanobis and propensity score matching, common support graphing, and covariate imbalance testing," Statistical Software Components S432001, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 01 Feb 2018.
    8. Anderson, Siwan & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2009. "What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 179-191, November.
    9. Phipps, Shelley A & Burton, Peter S, 1998. "What's Mine Is Yours? The Influence of Male and Female Incomes on Patterns of Household Expenditure," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(260), pages 599-613, November.
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    11. Eeshani Kandpal & Kathy Baylis, 2013. "Expanding Horizons: Can Women's Support Groups Diversify Peer Networks in Rural India?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(2), pages 360-367.
    12. Janssens, Wendy, 2010. "Women's Empowerment and the Creation of Social Capital in Indian Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 974-988, July.
    13. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    2. Martinho, Vítor João Pereira Domingues, 2012. "Effects on women empowerment of awareness raising," EconStor Preprints 67517, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    3. Kafle, Kashi & Michelson, Hope & Winter-Nelson, Alex, 2016. "Does she have a say? The impact of livestock transfer and associated training on women's empowerment: Evidence from Zambia," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236271, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    women's empowerment; community-level interventions; impact evaluation; India;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


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