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(Revised Version) Gender Sensitivity of Well-being Indicators


  • Ruhi Saith
  • Barbara Harriss-White


he gender sensitivity of indicators of health, nutrition, education, and composite indices, relevant to developing countries is assessed within the analytical framework of 'functionings'. A disaggregated under-10 female-male ratio (0-4 years and 5-9 years) appears to be a suitable indicator, especially for South Asia. Difficulties with data collection and interpretation reduce the reliability of indicators of nutrition and morbidity. Enrolment rates show promise for assessing gender gaps in education, especially for sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Micro-level research explicitly comparing indicators of education (especially enrolment, and drop-out ratios) is however required to reach firm conclusions. Composite indices like the Physical Quality of Life Index and Gender-related Development Index are evaluated as potentially useful, given some alterations to increase their relevance to developing countries. The evidence reviewed also suggests that gender inequality is not necessarily universally higher amongst low income groups, except in case of education. Policy implications are first, the collection of gender-sensitive indicator data in national censuses (especially for indicators mentioned above as well as 'time allocation') and second, the gender disaggregation of data for differing levels of income. However feeding research on social processes resulting in gender differentials (which is generally conducted at the micro-level) into policy, is essential to increase the effective use of indicators by policy makers.

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  • Ruhi Saith & Barbara Harriss-White, "undated". "(Revised Version) Gender Sensitivity of Well-being Indicators," QEH Working Papers qehwps10, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps10

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    1. Klasen, Stephan, 1994. ""Missing women" reconsidered," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 1061-1071, July.
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    3. Payne, Philip & Lipton, Michael, 1994. "How Third World rural households adapt to dietary energy stress," Food policy reviews 2, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Miller, Barbara D., 1997. "Social class, gender and intrahousehold food allocations to children in South Asia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(11), pages 1685-1695, June.
    5. Waldron, Ingrid, 1983. "Sex differences in illness incidence, prognosis and mortality: Issues and evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(16), pages 1107-1123, January.
    6. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
    7. Koenig, Michael A. & D'Souza, Stan, 1986. "Sex differences in childhood mortality in rural Bangladesh," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 15-22, January.
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