Asset Depletion Among the Poor: Does Gender Matter? The Case of Urban Households in Thailand
The paper analytically and empirically examines the issue of gender inequality in household wealth in the form of tangible assets among urban poor households Thailand. It seeks to answer the following questions: (1) is there a gendered pattern of asset ownership between husbands and wives; 2) during times of crises, is there a gendered pattern of asset depletion and 3) does asset depletion impact on men and women differently in regards to their income earnings capabilities? The answers are especially important since asset ownership and access impact the form of coping mechanisms and income earnings of men and women, hence on their individual well-being as well as the longer term well-being of the household. This paper joins in the recent efforts in the literature in investigating gender differences in asset ownership and depletion. In particular, we explore analytically and empirically this type of gender inequality among 135 couples, with and without dependents using quantitative and qualitative data drawn from a random sample of 152 urban, low-income households in Bangkok (Thailand) in 2002. The multi-purpose survey included information at the level of the individual respondent on accumulated tangible or physical assets as well as the status of those owned assets six months later. Both husband and wife were interviewed separately and the data gathered from the multi-visit interviews include pertinent household and individual information, employment, credit as well as household decision making issues, division of tasks and earnings allocation for various expenses. Tobit and probit tests are used to examine the varied factors that may affect the gendered pattern of asset depletion and whether there are any significant differences in asset depletion between men and women in the same households. In addition, two probit models are estimated in order to determine the effects of various individual and household characteristics on the probability of pawning or selling real assets and more specifically, business-related assets . The empirical results demonstrate that, alongside gender equality in employment opportunities and earnings, there is need to raise the importance of and promote advocacy for gender equality in wealth and assets, both public as well as private, and for policy interventions that addresses the gender-wealth gap.
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