Household decision making as empowerment: a methodological investigation

Sunita Kishor, ORC Macro
Lekha Subaiya, ORC Macro

This paper examines the women’s participation in household decision making questions now routinely included in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from a methodological perspective. The paper explores the following: a) what are the factors that affect women’s participation in different types of household decisions, including economic and own health care decisions; b) do these factors vary by type of decision; and c) in keeping with the idea that women’s participation in household decision making is a cross-culturally relevant dimension of household gender relations, can the information obtained from the different decision making questions be effectively summarized by a single indicator that captures the underlying concept of women’s household-level empowerment. Multivariate and factor analyses applied to DHS data from several developing countries help to answer these questions. It is hoped that this paper will help to interpret and provide needed analytical tools to use this important source of gender-related data.

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Presented in Session 175: Collecting and analysing data on gender