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

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.

Mason (2003)


OLS regressions of wives' domestic economic power with 1993-94, authors' own survey.Land titling.Land ownership has positive impact on women's authority in making household-expenditure decisions in India and Thailand.http://swaf.pop.upenn.edu/sites/www.pop.upenn.edu/files/WomensEmpowerment2Jan200...7,287 women from five countries.