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Women's Autonomy and Subjective Well-Being in India: How Village Norms Shape the Impact of Self-Help Groups

  • De Hoop, Thomas
  • Van Kempen, Luuk
  • Linssen, Rik
  • Van Eerdewijk, Anouka

This paper presents quasi-experimental impact estimates of women self-help groups on subjective well-being in Orissa, India. We find that, on average, self-help group membership does not affect subjective well-being. However, our results at the same time reveal that subjective well-being sharply declines for those members whose newly gained autonomy meets with relatively conservative social gender norms among non-members. We interpret this finding as evidence for heterogeneous losses of feelings of identity for self-help group members. Identity losses loom larger when women’s enhanced autonomy implies a stronger violation of social gender norms at the community level. Social sanctioning mechanisms play an important role in the heterogeneous negative impact on subjective well-being, as evidenced by qualitative accounts of women’s empowerment trajectories in the research area.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 25921.

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Date of creation: 13 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25921
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