Women’s property, mobility, and decisionmaking

Evidence from rural Karnataka, India

Recent research has shown that a substantial gap exists in asset ownership between men and women. In this paper, we examine the impact of rural women’s property ownership on their mobility and autonomy in decisionmaking. The results are based on data collected by the authors in the state of Karnataka, India (The Karnataka Household Asset Survey 2010–11), which has individual-level asset ownership and valuation information. The research was undertaken in order to measure the extent of gender disparities in asset ownership and wealth in the state, and to build on the empirical literature that discusses the importance of asset ownership for women.
Using logistic regression models, we find that owning a house or a plot of agricultural land enhances women’s ability to travel to the market, health center, and other places outside the community, and to make decisions about their employment, health, and use of money independently. These processes, while important for women’s own welfare, are also instrumental in improving the welfare outcomes of the entire household, particularly those of children. The impact of women’s asset ownership and enhanced decisionmaking abilities on children’s nutritional outcomes cannot be overstated. The findings of this paper thus bring to focus the need to intensify policy interventions aimed at increasing women’s asset base and bridging the gender asset gap.

Author: 
Swaminathan, Hema
Lahoti, Rahul
J. Y., Suchitra
Published date: 
2012
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
1188
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