The Social Lives of Married Women: Peer Effects in Female Autonomy and Investments in Children

Thumbnail Image
Files in English
English PDF (514.74 KB)
Baylis, Kathy
In patriarchal societies, sticky norms affect married women's social circles, their autonomy, and the outcomes of intra-household bargaining. This paper uses primary data on women's social networks in Uttarakhand, India; the modal woman has only three friends, and over 80 percent do not have any friends of another caste. This paper examines the effect of a shock to friends' empowerment on a woman's autonomy, specifically physical mobility, access to social safety nets, and employment outside the household; perceived social norms; and an outcome of household bargaining: investments in her children. The analysis instruments for endogenous network formation using a woman's age and her caste network in the village. The key peer effect is the impact of having a friend who received an empowerment shock on a woman who did not receive that shock. The results show significant peer effects on only a few of the examined measures of women's autonomy. In contrast, peer effects exist on all considered outcomes of a daughters’ diet and time spent on chores. The findings suggest a large decay rate between effects on own empowerment and peer effects. Interventions targeting child welfare through women's empowerment may generate second-order effects on intra-household decision-making, albeit with substantial decay rates, and thus benefit from targeted rather than randomized rollout. In contract, interventions on gender roles and women's autonomy may be limited by the stickiness of social norms.
Link to Data Set
Baylis, Kathy; Kandpal, Eeshani. 2019. The Social Lives of Married Women: Peer Effects in Female Autonomy and Investments in Children. Policy Research Working Paper;No. 8831. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Report Series
Report Series
Other publications in this report series
  • Publication
    Do Disasters Always Increase Intimate Partner Violence? Evidence from the 2018 Earthquake in Papua New Guinea
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-06-12) Leng, Alyssa; Tandon, Sharad
    This paper examines how an earthquake in Papua New Guinea changed people’s attitudes about and the prevalence of intimate partner violence. Although there are several reasons why disasters can aggravate intimate partner violence, among men in disaster-affected regions, the acceptability of intimate partner violence declined significantly. There was a smaller and noisier decline in reported incidents of intimate partner violence, driven by declines among women, who are the least likely to underreport intimate partner violence. The results highlight that the responsibilities of household members and social norms can change in sufficiently turbulent disasters, which can lead to improvements, and that measurement issues need to be better addressed to improve understanding of intimate partner violence.
  • Publication
    The World Bank’s New Inequality Indicator
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-06-11) Haddad, Cameron Nadim; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon; Diaz-Bonilla, Carolina; Hill, Ruth; Lakner, Christoph; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel
    The World Bank recently introduced a new key indicator to guide its work: the number of countries with high inequality, defined as a Gini index above 40. The new indicator was introduced as part of the new World Bank vision of ending poverty on a livable planet. This paper reviews why reducing inequality matters for ending poverty on a livable planet, summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of using the Gini index to track inequality, outlines challenges in measuring inequality, and discusses what a Gini threshold of 40 implies. Using the most recent data for every country, 52 countries of a total of 169 countries are classified as high inequality countries, which represents a decline from 74 countries at the beginning of the millennium.
  • Publication
    How Much of Economic Growth Trickles Down to the Population in Resource-Rich Countries? Evidence from Papua New Guinea
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-06-11) Baxi, Paripoorna; Naidoo, Darian; Tandon, Sharad
    There was substantial growth in the resource sector in Papua New Guinea during the last resource boom, increased revenue collection by the government associated with that growth, and significant increases in international assistance, all which might have translated into improved well-being outcomes across the country. For a better understanding of whether these changes improved household-level outcomes, this paper updates estimates of key well-being outcomes in the country. The analysis imputes monetary poverty status using nonmonetary indicators in the 2016 –18 Demographic and Health Survey and estimates the World Bank’s Multidimensional Poverty Measure. Despite the country’s significant growth since 2009, monetary poverty and access to several essential services hardly changed, which stands in stark contrast to the substantial improvement across the rest of the world and other comparison regions over the same period. Combined, the results illustrate that it is possible that very little of resource-led growth trickles down to the population and that the link between macroeconomic and microeconomic outcomes is more tenuous in Papua New Guinea than found in other resource-intensive settings.
  • Publication
    Firm Adaptation to Climate Risk in the Developing World
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-06-11) Grover, Arti; Kahn, Matthew E.
    How firms in the developing world adapt to changes in weather extremes will play a key role in determining their nation’s economic growth. This survey of the recent microeconomics adaptation literature suggests that although firm competitiveness is negatively affected by weather events, firms may bounce back better under certain conditions. The adaptation and resilience of firms to climate change depend on their capabilities, the available information on risks, and the depth of insurance and financial markets. As real-time weather forecasting improves, firms are better informed about these risks and this affects their decisions regarding their location, production, and configuration of supply chains. A firm’s resilience also depends on the quality of public investment in infrastructure and the social safety net. Understanding that market frictions can slow the pace of adaptation, the paper concludes with some insights on the options available to policy makers.
  • Publication
    Barrier or Opportunity? How Trade Regulations Shape Colombian Firms’ Export Strategies
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-06-06) Rosenow, Samuel
    Firms increasingly must contend with trade regulations to access foreign markets. This paper quantifies the relative importance of trade regulations and their heterogeneous effects for Colombian firms exporting to Latin America between 2007 and 2017, focusing on specific types and channels. Using panel evidence from a firm-level gravity model with a difference-in-differences identification strategy, technical barriers to trade and quantity control measures both decrease trade on average. Other non-tariff measures and tariffs play a minor role. The technical barriers to trade and quantity measures reallocate trade from small to big firms. The same mechanism benefits firms participating in global value chains. However, quantity controls make it more likely that big firms will leave export markets to the benefit of smaller ones. The results control for the endogeneity of trade regulations and are robust to the use of different samples and measures of firm size.
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Associated URLs
Associated content