Microcredit and Women’s Empowerment: Through the Lens of Time Use Data from Rural India
This study examines the impact of microcredit on male and female time use and draws on this analysis to explore the linkages between credit and women’s empowerment. A study of time use can help understand these linkages because credit targeted at women with the intent of influencing their livelihoods must also influence the way they allocate their work time. Its other advantages are that it does not suffer from much time lag and can be objectively measured. We use survey data from rural India. Our findings show that while microcredit has little impact on women’s time use, it helps their husbands shift away from wage-work, which is associated with bad pay and low status, to self-employment. We find that this is because women’s loans are typically used to enhance male ownership of household’s productive assets. Further, we find that only women who use loans in self-managed enterprises are able to allocate more time to self-employment. We conclude that if credit is to increase the value of women’s work time then it is not access to loan but use of loan that matters. Specifically, women’s control over loan created assets is critical.
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