Women's autonomy and subjective well-being: How gender norms shape the impact of self-help groups in Odisha, India
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Number of pages
SourceFeminist Economics, 20, 3, (2014), pp. 103-135
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This paper presents impact estimates of women's self-help group (SHG) membership on subjective well-being in Odisha, India, using 2008 survey data in a quasi-experimental design. It finds that, while there is evidence of a positive impact of SHG membership on women's autonomy, on average, SHG membership does not affect subjective well-being. However, results also reveal that for members living in communities with relatively conservative gender norms among nonmembers, subjective well-being is notably lower. The authors interpret this finding as evidence that these SHG members feel a loss of identity - a problem that looms larger when women's enhanced autonomy implies a stronger violation of gender norms at the community level. In these communities, social-sanctioning mechanisms contribute to a negative impact of women's SHGs on subjective well-being, as evidenced by qualitative accounts of women's empowerment trajectories in the research area.
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