South Asia

  • Failure vs. Displacement: Why an Innovative Anti-Poverty Program Showed No Net Impact

    Morduch et al (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    We present results from a randomized trial of an innovative anti-poverty program in India. Instead of a safety net, the program provides "ultra-poor" households with inputs to create a new livelihood and attain economic independence. We find no statistically significant evidence of lasting net impact on consumption, income or asset accumulation. The main impact was the re-optimization of time use: sharp gains in income from the new livelihood were fully offset by lower earnings from wage labor. The result highlights how the existence of alternative economic options shapes net impacts and external validity.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Livestock asset ($140). Asset specific training.

    Methodology:

    Sample: Women.

    Findings: 325% more time spent tending to animals relative to baseline wage labor: 22%. No impact on earnings. No impact on per capita expenditure. Less time in wage labor (1 hours per day).

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  • Joint Titling: A Win-Win Policy? Gender and Property Rights in Urban Informal Settlements in Chandigarh, India

    Datta (2006)

    Original Abstract:

    This article extends the debate on gender and property rights that has previously focused on agricultural land in rural areas to housing in urban areas. Specifically, it explores the impact of joint titling of houses on women's empowerment in urban informal settlements in Chandigarh, India. Property rights increase women's participation in decision making, access to knowledge and information about public matters, sense of security, self-esteem, and the respect that they receive from their spouses. Women display a higher attachment to their houses than men, especially after getting joint titles, because houses play a valuable role in fulfilling women's practical and strategic gender needs. This increased attachment to the house helps reduce property turnover in regularized settlements, hence assisting the government in attaining its goals and making joint titling a win-win policy.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Land titling.

    Methodology: Interviews, focus groups, simple logit regressions.

    Sample: 200 individuals (55% women).

    Findings: Jointly owned land increased various measures of autonomy for poor urban women, including: their participation in household decision-making, access to information about financial matters, self-esteem and respect they received from their husbands.

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  • Do Basic Savings Accounts Help the Poor to Save? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Nepal

    Prina (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    Recent studies have shown that the majority of the poor lack access to formal banking services of any kind (Banerjee and Duflo (2007), Collins et al. (2009)) and have emphasized the importance of enabling savings. A simple savings account was randomly offered to poor female household heads through local bank-branches in 17 slums in Nepal. 81% of the individuals offered the account took it up and 78% used it actively. Account holders made on average one deposit per week, saving about 9% of their weekly income and, within the first four months of opening the account made one withdrawal half the size of their weekly income. Access to the savings account increased monetary assets by 40% without causing any crowding out in other kind of assets. If anything, being offered the account had a positive and significant impact on ROSCA's contributions and overall value of animal stock.

    Intervention settings: Peri-urban: Pokhara.

    Intervention description: Flexible savings accounts were provided with no opening, deposit or withdrawal fees to female-headed households.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Female-headed households in 19 slums.

    Findings: Total household assets increased in the treatment group (including an increase of 50% in monetary assets) after one year, with larger effects observed in lower and middle pre-intervention asset groups.

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  • Women's Inheritance Rights and Intergenerational Transmission of Resources in India

    Deininger et al. (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    We use inheritance patterns over three generations of individuals to assess the impact of changes in the Hindu Succession Act that grant daughters equal coparcenary birth rights in joint family property that were denied to daughters in the past. We show that the amendment significantly increased daughters' likelihood to inherit land, but that even after the amendment, substantial bias persists. Our results also indicate a robust increase in educational attainment of daughters, suggesting an alternative channel of wealth transfer.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Land titling.

    Methodology: Fixed effects model using 2006 Rural Economic and Demographic Survey.

    Sample:

    Findings: A legal reform giving daughters greater rights to inherit land (Hindu Succession Act) led to an increase in girls' educational attainment. The reform did not fully compensate for the existing gender bias in land inheritance, suggesting the need for further study of the channels through which land law reforms change household behaviors.

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  • Wives' Economic Decision-Making Power in the Family: Five Asian Countries

    Mason (2003)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper analyzes multiple measures of married women's empowerment in the domestic sphere in 56 communities spanning five Asian countries (India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand). At issue is whether community or individual characteristics are better predictors of women's empowerment, and whether different dimensions of empowerment are similarly related to community or individual traits. The analysis shows that, consistent with the theoretical approach employed here, which treats gender relations as heavily influenced by community norms and values, community is a far stronger predictor of women's empowerment than are individual traits. The relationship of both community and individual traits to different measures of empowerment vary, suggesting that "empowerment" is inherently a multi- dimensional phenomenon, with women relatively empowered in some spheres but not in others. The primary policy implication is the importance of changing community norms and values about gender relations for empowering women. The results also suggest that policies to raise women's age at marriage, enhance their educations and open greater employment opportunities will also help to empower them, at least in some respects.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Land titling.

    Methodology: OLS regressions of wives' domestic economic power with 1993-94, authors' own survey.

    Sample: 7,287 women from five countries.

    Findings: Land ownership has positive impact on women's authority in making household-expenditure decisions in India and Thailand.

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