The Effect of Workforce Participation and Household Income Contribution on Women’s Healthcare Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh

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2022-04-08

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Abstract

Women in Bangladesh have gained increased access to paid work in the past decade yet still experience limited choices and access to resources, which threatens their ability to exercise control over healthcare for themselves and their children. Several collective household bargaining theories hypothesize a link between women’s workforce participation and empowerment. This paper uses a cross-sectional approach and survey data collected at the end of a randomized trial field experiment in rural Bangladesh from 2007 to 2017 to examine health empowerment outcomes for 7,151 young women ages 14 to 32. The results show that women who work for income are expected to be more health empowered, specifically due to an increased ability to make their own health decisions. As a woman contributes more income to her household, her health empowerment is expected to increase, through increased abilities to make her own health decisions, purchase medicine for herself, and seek medical treatment independently. Greater mobility and stronger female-positive attitudes towards gender norms are potential mechanisms through which paid work and household income contribution can translate into health empowerment. Furthermore, higher total household income, having children, and being more educated than her husband are expected to increase a woman’s health empowerment. These results are significant while controlling for the effects of various individual and household characteristics.

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Wang, Hannah (2022). The Effect of Workforce Participation and Household Income Contribution on Women’s Healthcare Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25383.


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