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Mother-In-Law in Patriarchal Joint Families for Women and Children: Evidence From India and Bangladesh

  • 2007-2009
  • Project
Varghese, Rekha, University of Chicago

Study: “Mother-In-Law in Patriarchal Joint Families for Women and Children: Evidence From India and Bangladesh”
PI(s): Varghese, Rekha
Affiliation(s): University of Chicago
Institutional Partner(s): PRB Dissertation Fellowship
Project Dates:
Start: 2007
End: 2009
Data Source(s): Cross-Sectional Survey Data
Methods: Instrumental Variables, Difference-in-Difference, and Propensity Score Weighted Regressions
Geographic Location(s): India, Bangladesh

In many Asian, Arab, and African countries, most rural women live with their mother-in-law during early married life; and during years when women make vital fertility and human capital decisions, they are under the supervision of the mother-in-law. The study explores the effects of this intergenerational-within-gender power dynamic on the welfare of women and children of India and Bangladesh and finds that the health consequences of co-residence during pregnancy results in the mother-in-law being a valuable resource during this period. The results show that women are less likely to be anemic and that children born to co-resident women are less likely to have below-average birth sizes. While co-residence has a positive effect on children born, researchers found some negative effects on the women themselves, including that co-resident women are less likely to participate in organizations like microcredit projects. Mothers-in-law also adversely affect daughters-in-law BMI. Targeting awareness-generation tools at mothers-in-law has the potential to improve the effectiveness of developmental programs, in wide-ranging areas from women’s health care to microcredit, and promote women’s empowerment.

Research Outputs:

Varghese, Rekha. (2009). Welfare Consequences of Coresiding with the Mother-in-Law in Patriarchal Joint Families for Women and Children: Evidence from India and Bangladesh (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

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