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Reproductive Health, Empowerment of Women, and Economic Prosperity

  • 2007-2010
  • Project
Frankenberg, Elizabeth, Duke University

Study: “Reproductive Health, Empowerment of Women, and Economic Prosperity”
PI(s): Frankenberg, Elizabeth
Co-PI(s): Thomas, Duncan
Affiliation(s): Duke University
Institutional Partner(s): PRB Center
Project Dates:
Start: 2007
End: 2010
Data Source(s): Panel Data Collection
Methods: Randomized Controlled Trial
Geographic Location(s): Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa

Using experimental and nonexperimental micro-level data from four different countries, the project measured the effects of investments in family planning and reproductive health services on a broad array of indicators of the health and well-being of women, their children, and their families. The research team focused on assessing the causal effects of programs focused on choices about family planning and reproductive health care; on the health and well-being of women and children; and on the status of women pertaining to their economic productivity, savings, and investment choices. The project examined the impact of improvements in women’s health and empowerment on current and future economic prosperity, explored women’s greater propensity to invest in children relative to men, and contrasted the attitudes and expectations of males with females. Data show that regardless of a woman’s educational level, adding village midwives to communities is associated with significant increases in receipt of iron tablets and a movement away from reliance on traditional birth attendants. Data from the Matlab intervention in Bangladesh indicate that women in family planning programs tended to save more, relative to their husbands, than women in a control group. Women were empowered by the enhanced family planning services to play a larger role in the family economy. The studies of the impact of economic and natural disasters indicated that women allocate more of the resources under their control toward investments in children. The Mexican study also demonstrates that women allocate substantially more of their resources to savings. Based on the evidence for the benefits that accrue from improved family planning and reproductive health services, an important policy implication is to use that evidence to develop high-quality methods for evaluating these programs.

Research Outputs:
Frankenberg, E., Buttenheim, A., Sikoki, B., & Suriastini, W. (2009). Do women increase their use of reproductive health care when it becomes more available? Evidence from Indonesia. Studies in Family Planning, 40(1), 27-38.

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