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Female Empowerment, Intrahousehold Decisionmaking, Fertility, and Economic Development in East Africa

  • 2009-2011
  • Project
Hjort, Jonas, University of California-Berkeley

Study: “Female Empowerment, Intrahousehold Decisionmaking, Fertility, and Economic Development in East Africa”
PI(s): Hjort, Jonas
Affiliation(s): University of California-Berkeley
Institutional Partner(s): IIE Fellow
Project Dates:
Start: 2009
End: 2011
Data Source(s): Panel Data
Methods: Randomized Controlled Trial
Geographic Location(s): Ethiopia

Jobs for parents are frequently thought to be the best way to improve the welfare of children in developing countries, especially mother’s employment. This study looks at the effect of female employment on intrahousehold decisionmaking and ensuing income trends by doing an experimental evaluation of the intrahousehold effects of parents’ permanent employment. The study estimates and explains the impact of mother’s and father’s employment on daughters and sons, and uses these results to inform household theory. Results show a documented impact of parent’s employment on children. A higher income, regardless of mother’s or father’s employment, leads to longer schooling for sons. However, there is a substitution effect of mother’s employment on daughters’ schooling and hunger, where it has the opposite effect on daughters than sons. For instance, mother’s employment is associated with less daughters’ schooling and more hunger. A possible reason for this substitution effect lies in the daughter’s responsibility to perform household duties in the absence of the mother. Father’s employment is associated with increased hunger for daughters and sons. The implications for policy are twofold: to address household infrastructure to make housework less time-consuming, and to make female employment less costly by providing child care.

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