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The gender of debt and the financialisation of development. Insights from rural southern India

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  • Isabelle Guérin
  • Christophe Nordman
  • Elena Reboul

Abstract

Proponents of financial inclusion regret that women do not have sufficient access to credit, while critics of financialization consider that women are too indebted. But little is actually known about women’s debt/credit in quantitative terms, mostly because of a lack of data. Based on Indian data disaggregated by sex, this descriptive paper analyses the gender of debt, at the prism of caste and poverty. We find that women are already heavily indebted, borrowing much more than men relatively to their income. Furthermore, iemale debt is predominantly - and markedly more than male – used to make both end meets, while productive investment remains in great part a male privilege. Last, it is in the poorest and the lowest caste households that women manage the highest shares of household debt. From a theoretical perspective, these results underline the gender earmarking of debt and credit, ie the fact that male and female debt/credit do not have the same meaning and use. They also confirm the gender dimension of behaviour, women’s behaviour being constrained by their family affiliation, poverty level and caste, which is much less the case for men. Interms of policy implications, these results question microcredit policies: not only microcredit does not tackle the gender of debt, but it may even strengthen it further.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/290703
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender; Debt; Poverty; Caste; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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