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The Cost of Empowerment: Multiple Sources of Women’s Debt in Rural India

Author

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  • Supriya Garikipati
  • Isabelle Agier
  • Isabelle Guérin
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

Poor women borrow from multiple sources. This study examines whether the source of debt matters for women’s role in household financial decisions. Drawing on a household survey from rural Tamil Nadu, we categorise women’s loans along the lines of accessibility and formality into ‘planned loans’ and ‘instant loans’. We find that ‘instant loans’ support women’s bargaining power in various types of household financial decisions, whereas ‘planned loans’ have no impact. This surprising result is better understood when the nature of ‘instant loans’ is examined – these are frequently usurious, involve coercive enforcement methods and considered socially debasing. Hence women who use them perform a convenient role for their husbands and in return gain some negotiating power.

Suggested Citation

  • Supriya Garikipati & Isabelle Agier & Isabelle Guérin & Ariane Szafarz, 2014. "The Cost of Empowerment: Multiple Sources of Women’s Debt in Rural India," Working Papers CEB 14-007, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/159326
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    9. D'Espallier, Bert & Guérin, Isabelle & Mersland, Roy, 2011. "Women and Repayment in Microfinance: A Global Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 758-772, May.
    10. Agier, Isabelle & Szafarz, Ariane, 2013. "Microfinance and Gender: Is There a Glass Ceiling on Loan Size?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 165-181.
    11. Kabeer, Naila, 2001. "Conflicts Over Credit: Re-Evaluating the Empowerment Potential of Loans to Women in Rural Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 63-84, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isabelle Guérin, 2014. "Juggling with debt, social ties, and values the everyday use of microcredit in rural South India," Post-Print ird-01471734, HAL.
    2. Friedson-Ridenour, Sophia & Pierotti, Rachael S., 2019. "Competing priorities: Women’s microenterprises and household relationships," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 53-62.
    3. Isabelle Guérin & Bert D'Espallier & G. Venkatasubramanian, 2015. "The Social Regulation of Markets: Why Microcredit Fails to Promote Jobs in Rural South India," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(6), pages 1277-1301, November.
    4. Carolina Laureti, 2017. "Why do Poor People Co-hold Debt and Liquid Savings?," Working Papers CEB 17-007, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Huis, Marloes & Lensink, Robert & Vu, Nhung & Hansen, Nina, 2019. "Impacts of the Gender and Entrepreneurship Together Ahead (GET Ahead) training on empowerment of female microfinance borrowers in Northern Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 46-61.
    6. Ameen, Nisreen & Shah, Mahmood Hussain & Sims, Julian & Choudrie, Jyoti & Willis, Robert, 2020. "Are there peas in a pod when considering mobile phone and mobile applications use: A quantitative study," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 55(C).
    7. Elena Reboul & Isabelle Guérin & Antony Raj & G. Venkatasubramanian, 2019. "Managing Economic Volatility. A Gender Perspective," Working Papers CEB 19-015, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. Isabelle Guérin, 2018. "Pour une socioéconomie de la dette," Post-Print ird-02196925, HAL.
    9. Isabelle Guérin & Christophe Nordman & Elena Reboul, 2019. "The gender of debt and the financialisation of development. Insights from rural southern India," Working Papers CEB 19-016, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Debt; Women’s Empowerment; Microfinance; Tamil Nadu; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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