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

Author

Listed:
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
    2. Marc Labie & Carolina Laureti & Ariane Szafarz, 2013. "Flexible Products in Microfinance: Overcoming the Demand-Supply Mismatch," Working Papers CEB 13-044, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
    4. Agier, Isabelle & Guérin, Isabelle & Szafarz, Ariane, 2012. "Child gender and parental borrowing: Evidence from India," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 363-365.
    5. Swaminathan, Madhura, 1991. "Segmentation, Collateral Undervaluation, and the Rate of Interest in Agrarian Credit Markets: Some Evidence from Two Villages in South India," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 161-178, June.
    6. Morvant-Roux, Solène & Guérin, Isabelle & Roesch, Marc & Moisseron, Jean-Yves, 2014. "Adding Value to Randomization with Qualitative Analysis: The Case of Microcredit in Rural Morocco," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 302-312.
    7. Garikipati, Supriya, 2008. "The Impact of Lending to Women on Household Vulnerability and Women's Empowerment: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2620-2642, December.
    8. Isabelle Guérin & Marc Roesch & Govidan Venkatasubramanian & Bert D'Espallier, 2012. "Credit from whom and for what? The diversity of borrowing sources and uses in rural southern India," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24, pages 122-137, January.
    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.
    12. Isabelle Guérin & Bert D'Espallier & Govindan Venkatasubramanian, 2013. "Debt in Rural South India: Fragmentation, Social Regulation and Discrimination," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(9), pages 1155-1171, September.
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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. 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.
    3. Carolina Laureti, 2017. "Why do Poor People Co-hold Debt and Liquid Savings?," Working Papers CEB 17-007, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Debt; Women’s Empowerment; Microfinance; Tamil Nadu; India;

    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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