Mother’s Autonomy and Child Welfare - a New Measure and Some New Evidence

Tanika Chakraborty, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
Prabal De, City College, City University of New York (CUNY)

We construct a new, direct measure of female autonomy in household decision-making by creating an index from the principal components of a variety of household decision variables. We find that greater autonomy for mothers leads to better secondary education for boys, but not girls. For identification, we argue that given the migration pattern and motivation in Mexico, relative geographic proximity of spousal parents can serve as instruments for relative autonomy to ameliorate the potential endogeneity between autonomy and child outcomes. While our findings support rejection of income-pooling within family, they caution against the success of gender-directed conditional cash transfer programs.

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Presented in Session 187: Public Policy and Families in Developing Countries