Publisher/Institution: University of Chicago
Abstract: In many Asian, Arab, and African countries, where the patriarchal joint family is ubiquitous, most rural women live with the mother-in-law during early married life. During the years when women make vital fertility and human capital decisions, they are under the supervision of the mother-in-law. My dissertation explores the effects of this inter-generational, within gender, power dynamics on the welfare of women and children of India and Bangladesh. Chapter One analyzes the health consequences of co-residence during pregnancy in rural North India. Changes in the prevalence and consequences of co-residence over time and across regions are explored in the second chapter using National Family Health Survey, 2005–2006 and 1998-1999. In the third chapter, co-residence effect on the autonomy and human capital of rural Bangladeshi daughters-in-law are evaluated. The dataset is Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey 1996. The finding that the well-being of women and children is dependent on household structure highlights an avenue for policy intervention. 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.