Women’s Nutritional Empowerment and Their Well-Being Identifying Key Drivers in India and Bangladesh
38 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 12, 2019
This paper uses six nationally representative household surveys from India and Bangladesh to examine the link between women’s empowerment and their own nutritional status. Using a recently developed concept of nutritional empowerment, we first assess the degree to which these surveys capture its constituent elements. After identifying the relevant variables in these surveys that best represent the various aspects of nutritional empowerment, we use these surveys to estimate the relative contribution of different factors of nutritional empowerment to women’s nutritional outcomes, specifically BMI (in India and Bangladesh) and anemia (in India). While there are a number of approaches to decomposing the contribution of various factors driving nutrition, we present a novel application of the Shapley-Owen decomposition method, hitherto not applied in the context of determinants of nutritional status. This decomposition method reflects not just the independent, standalone contribution of a specific factor, but a factor’s contribution including possible interaction with other factors of nutritional empowerment. Consistent across the surveys, we find that resources, particularly those of health and food drive BMI, while resources relating to health and fertility overwhelmingly determine haemoglobin levels (anemia) in India. We also find that the contribution of knowledge and agency correlate positively with resources, suggesting that these dimensions are complementary. Our findings suggest that policies aimed at empowering women must therefore not focus merely on providing knowledge or seek to strengthen women’s decision-making roles in the family. Rather, they should prioritize providing health resources to women in constrained settings.
Keywords: India, Bangladesh, Women, Nutritional Empowerment, Decomposition Techniques, Shapley-Owen Values
JEL Classification: I1, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation