Types of Research
A large and growing body of scholarship now suggests that many household outcomes, including children’s education and nutrition, are associated with a wife’s bargaining power and control over household decision-making. In turn, bargaining power in a household is theorized to be driven by a wife’s financial and human capital assets – in particular the degree to which these assets contribute to household productivity and/or to the wife’s exit options. This paper draws on the detailed Farmer First dataset in Tanzania and Mali to examine husband and wife reports of a wife’s share of decision-making authority in polygynous households, where multiple wives jointly contribute to household productivity, and where exit options for any single wife may be less credible. We find that both husbands and wives assign less authority to the wife in polygynous households relative to monogamous households. We also find that a wife’s assets are not as strongly associated with decision-making authority in polygynous versus monogamous contexts. Finally, we find that responses to questions on spousal authority vary significantly by spouse in both polygynous and monogamous households, suggesting interventions based on the response of a single spouse may incorrectly inform policies and programs.
Access to financial services can enhance low-income households’ ability to invest in their livelihoods, safeguard their assets, manage risks, smooth income, and escape poverty (Cull, Ehrbeck & Holle, 2014; Dupas & Robinson, 2013). Yet worldwide 35% of men and 42% of women remain unbanked (Demirgüç-Kunt et al., 2015). Approximately half of the financially excluded population has access to a mobile phone, which may facilitate access to new digital financial services (DFS) such as mobile money (GSMA, 2015). Increasing access to and adoption of DFS-based technologies such as mobile money may therefore represent a significant opportunity for increasing financial inclusion. This potential may be especially great among the poor, and among rural, low-income women in particular, who in the past have been under-served by conventional bank-based financial services.
In this report we analyze three waves of the Intermedia Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) Survey, a nationally-representative household survey conducted in 2013/14, 2014, and 2015 in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. We run multiple logistic regressions using pooled survey data and country and wave fixed-effects to explore sociodemographic and economic factors associated with mobile money adoption, awareness, and use across countries and over time.
We find that rural respondents and respondents below the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) score have statistically significant negative associations with awareness and adoption for each survey wave and for most countries, consistent with less reach of mobile money in these populations. Indicators of education, including level of education acquired and literacy, have a positive association with awareness and adoption across countries and across survey waves. Phone ownership and having a bank account are consistently strongly associated with awareness, adoption, and use of mobile money; and the effects of these factors are the largest in terms of magnitude for mobile money adoption and use.
Women have consistently lower levels of awareness, adoption, and use than men across countries. Even controlling for other sociodemographic and economic factors, we find that being female is associated with an overall lower likelihood of awareness of mobile money. Across all countries, women who are aware of mobile money are also less likely to adopt mobile money than are aware men, with the negative effect of gender increasing in each wave. Gender does not have a significant association with the use of mobile money among those that have adopted it, however, which suggests that barriers to first-time use may be the most important for women’s access to mobile money.
These findings indicate that to realize the potential of DFS to reach currently unbanked populations and increase financial inclusion, particular attention needs to be paid to barriers faced by women in accessing mobile money. While policies and interventions to promote education, employment, phone ownership, and having a bank account may broadly help to increase mobile money adoption and use, potentially bringing in currently unbanked populations, specific policies targeting women may be needed to close current gender gaps.
Cash transfer programs are interventions that directly provide cash to target specific populations with the aim of reducing poverty and supporting a variety of development outcomes. Low- and middle-income countries have increasingly adopted cash transfer programs as central elements of their poverty reduction and social protection strategies. Bastagli et al. (2016) report that around 130 low- and middle-income countries have at least one UCT program, and 63 countries have at least one CCT program (up from 27 countries in 2008). Through a comprehensive review of literature, this report primarily considers the evidence of the long-term impacts of cash transfer programs in low- and lower middle-income countries. A review of 54 reviews that aggregate and summarize findings from multiple studies of cash transfer programs reveals largely positive evidence on long-term outcomes related to general health, reproductive health, nutrition, labor markets, poverty, and gender and intra-household dynamics, though findings vary by context and in many cases overall conclusions on the long-term impacts of cash transfers are mixed. In addition, evidence on long-term impacts for many outcome measures is limited, and few studies explicitly aim to measure long-term impacts distinctly from immediate or short-term impacts of cash transfers.
Although the programs reported on in the reviews include 37 cash transfer programs from Sub-Saharan Africa, 36 from Latin America, 18 from South Asia, ten from East Asia and the Pacific, three from Europe and Central Asia, five from North America, and four from the Middle East and North Africa, much of the evidence comes from multiple studies evaluating the most prominent cash transfer programs, especially Latin American programs. More evidence on the long-term impacts of cash transfer programs and on how these impacts might differ by context and program design will emerge as more of the existing global cash transfer programs mature and are evaluated. The available evidence indicates that cash transfer programs can be cost-effective, depending on the context and program design. Evidence of the cost-effectiveness, scalability, and sustainability of these programs is limited, but a few studies present initial findings on factors that appear to support or hinder cost-effectiveness, scalability, and sustainability. Several reviews suggest that design characteristics of cash transfer programs, including conditionality, targeting, and payment size, timing, frequency, and duration may all affect the impacts of the programs. Evidence on whether CCTs or UCTs are more effective at improving particular outcomes is mixed and may depend on the outcome measure of interest, but the reviews indicate that programs generally have greater impacts when targeting poorer or more marginalized populations and when providing transfers of larger size. Few reviews compare outcomes between cash transfer programs and other types of programs or interventions, though there is some limited evidence indicates that cash transfer programs might be more effective than alternatives to improve outcome measures related to poverty under specific circumstances.
According to AGRA's 2017 Africa Agriculture Status Report, smallholder farmers make up to about 70% of the population in Africa. The report finds that 500 million smallholder farms around the world provide livelihoods for more than 2 billion people and produce about 80% of the food in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Many development interventions and policies therefore target smallholder farm households with the goals of increasing their productivity and promoting agricultural transformation. Of particular interest for agricultural transformation is the degree to which smallholder farm households are commercializating their agricultural outputs, and diversifying their income sources away from agriculture. In this project, EPAR uses data from the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study - Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) to analyze and compare characteristics of smallholder farm households at different levels of crop commercialization and reliance on farm income, and to evaluate implications of using different criteria for defining "smallholder" households for conclusions on trends in agricultural transformation for those households.
Land tenure refers to a set of land rights and land governance institutions which can be informal (customary, traditional) or formal (legally recognized), that define relationships between people and land and natural resources (FAO, 2002). These land relationships may include, but are not limited to, rights to use land for cultivation and production, rights to control how land should be used including for cultivation, resource extraction, conservation, or construction, and rights to transfer – through sale, gift, or inheritance – those land use and control rights (FAO, 2002). Land tenure security – i.e., the level of confidence landholders have in their land rights – depends on the ability of informal and formal institutions to enforce those land rights and prevent others from challenging them (Feder & Feeny, 1991). In low and middle income countries land tenure security has been linked to improved land management including greater investments to improve land and agricultural productivity (Deininger & Jun, 2006; Deininger, Ali, & Alemu, 2011; Ali, Deininger, & Goldstein, 2014; Lawry et al., 2017). Having legal documentation in particular has been associated with a greater sense of ownership over land, increases in land productivity and capital investments associated with land, and in some cases additional financial opportunities such as access to credit for landholders with formal land titles (Deininger, Ali, & Alemu, 2011). But in spite of the widely recognized benefits of land tenure security more than 70 percent of the world’s population – and in particular many poor and vulnerable populations including ethnic minorities, smallholder farmers, and women – still lack access to formal systems to register their property and receive legally recognized land titles (Place, 2009; Enemark et al., 2014; Mitchell et al. 2016).
A growing body of evidence suggests that empowering women may lead to economic benefits (The World Bank, 2011; Duflo, 2012; Kabeer & Natali, 2013). Little work, however, focuses specifically on the potential impacts of women’s empowerment in agricultural settings. Through a comprehensive review of literature this report considers how prioritizing women’s empowerment in agriculture might lead to economic benefits. With an intentionally narrow focus on economic empowerment, we draw on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI)’s indicators of women’s empowerment in agriculture to consider the potential economic rewards to increasing women’s control over agricultural productive resources (including their own time and labor), over agricultural production decisions, and over agricultural income. While we recognize that there may be quantifiable benefits of improving women’s empowerment in and of itself, we focus on potential longer-term economic benefits of improvements in these empowerment measures.
We consider the case for spending the marginal dollar on empowering female farmers as a means of increasing household productivity, either prioritizing women for new investments or re-allocating existing resources. The literature suggests at least two distinct avenues via which economic benefits from investing in women’s empowerment in agriculture might arise. The first is by equalizing access to productive resources (including access to and control over land, labor, and other inputs) between men and women, and the second by leveraging differences between men and women that might lead to improved household outcomes. For the first avenue, we consider two theorized pathways to economic benefits from women’s empowerment in agriculture that posit reducing female farmers’ constraints would allow them to be as productive as equivalent male farmers. Pathway 1 focuses on empowering women through increasing their access to and control over agricultural inputs, thereby increasing overall agricultural productivity by reducing gender productivity gaps. Pathway 2 focuses on women’s control over their own time and labor, hypothesizing that removing constraints to women’s mobility would increase overall household labor productivity.
In the second avenue, we consider three further theorized pathways from increasing women’s decision-making power over agricultural decisions to economically beneficial individual and household outcomes, given assumed male-female differences in decision-making under similar circumstances. Pathway 3 connects differences in men’s and women’s decisions of what crops to grow with household nutrition outcomes. Pathway 4 hypothesizes that differences in plot management between men and women, specifically women’s greater likelihood of intercropping, influence farm soil quality and long-term household agricultural productivity. Finally, Pathway 5 draws a connection between differences in how men and women spend income from agriculture to impacts on household nutrition and education outcomes. We note that any measured benefits from leveraging male-female differences in the resource choices they make may dissipate as women gain more access and control if the differences are not due to being a woman per se, but rather stem from being disempowered - since this would change the circumstances in which evidence of these differences in decision-making have been observed.
This review of the literature ultimately shows some - but not conclusive - support for portions of all five theorized causal pathways between women’s economic empowerment in agriculture and economic returns. The literature also provides some dissenting evidence surrounding women’s constraints and preferences, most notably highlighting that results surrounding returns to empowerment can be context specific. We also note some inconsistencies in published methods and findings, and several key data gaps. First, published estimates of economic returns to empowering women in agriculture are still relatively rare, are mostly non-experimental, and are often limited in terms of data quality. Second, while published estimates provide some indication that, in many contexts, economic returns to women’s empowerment might be substantial, differences in measurement and reporting impede readily comparing benefits across contexts. Third, key variables necessary for extrapolating study findings to broader estimates of the benefits of economic empowerment – including basic variables such as land area managed by women – are not readily available. Finally, data on the costs of interventions addressing (eliminating or leveraging) the male-female differences in the five pathways are limited, making calculations of potential returns per dollar of investment difficult.
Previous research has shown that men and women, on average, have different risk attitudes and social preferences and may therefore see different value propositions in response to new economic opportunities. We use data from smallholder farm households in Mali to test whether risk perceptions differ by gender in this setting and across risk domains. We model the association between gender and perception or expression of concern across six risks (work injury, extreme weather, community relationships, debt, lack of buyers at market, and conflict) while controlling for demographic (age, education, health, wealth, time poverty, number of children) and attitudinal (social orientation, access to information, worldview, optimism, and beliefs about self-efficacy) characteristics. Factor analysis highlights extreme weather and conflict as eliciting the most distinct patterns of participant response. Regression analysis reveals an association between gender and risk perception, with women expressing more concern across all risks studied except for extreme weather. Also, we find lower risk perception associated with an individualistic and/or fatalistic worldview, a risk-seeking outlook, and optimism, while education, better health, a social orientation, self-efficacy and access to information are generally associated with more frequent worry – with some inconsistency for extreme weather, debt, and conflict risk. Further, income, wealth, and time poverty exhibit important, and complex, association patterns. Understanding if, and how, men’s and women’s risk preferences differ could help development organizations to shape interventions targeting women, to increase the likelihood of adoption, and to avoid inadvertently making certain sub-populations worse off by increasing the potential for negative outcomes.
We use OLS and logistic regression to investigate variation in husband and wife perspectives on the division of authority over agriculture-related decisions within households in rural Tanzania. Using original data from husbands and wives (interviewed separately) in 1,851 Tanzanian households, the analysis examines differences in the wife’s authority over 13 household and farming decisions. The study finds that the level of decision-making authority allocated to wives by their husbands, and the authority allocated by wives to themselves, both vary significantly across households. In addition to commonly considered assets such as women’s age and education, in rural agricultural households women’s health and labour activities also appear to matter for perceptions of authority. We also find husbands and wives interviewed separately frequently disagree with each other over who holds authority over key farming, family, and livelihood decisions. Further, the results of OLS and logistic regression suggest that even after controlling for various individual, household, and regional characteristics, husband and wife claims to decision-making authority continue to vary systematically by decision – suggesting decision characteristics themselves also matter. The absence of spousal agreement over the allocation of authority (i.e., a lack of “intrahousehold accord”) over different farm and household decisions is problematic for interventions seeking to use survey data to develop and inform strategies for reducing gender inequalities or empowering women in rural agricultural households. Findings provide policy and program insights into when studies interviewing only a single spouse or considering only a single decision may inaccurately characterize intra-household decision-making dynamics.
This brief presents an overview of EPAR’s previous research related to gender. We first present our key takeaways related to labor and time use, technology adoption, agricultural production, control over income and assets, health and nutrition, and data collection. We then provide a brief overview of each previous research project related to gender along with gender-related findings, starting with the most recent project. Many of the gender-related findings draw from other sources; please see the full documents for references. Reports available on EPAR’s website are hyperlinked in the full brief.