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Women less likely to make decisions on household budgets regardless of employment: Study

Women less likely to make decisions on household budgets regardless of employment: Study

The study shows that women report the least agency regarding household budgets. Only 21 per cent of women report having the most say over how much money is spent on cooking for the family.

Working women are 12 per cent more likely to make decisions about cooking, but just 3 per cent more likely to decide about appliance purchases. Working women are 12 per cent more likely to make decisions about cooking, but just 3 per cent more likely to decide about appliance purchases.

Women's decision-making in households is strongly associated with their participation in the labour force. But they are the least likely to decide on household spending matters regardless of employment status, a new study has found. 


Women report higher decision-making power in cooking – 56 per cent of women said they decide what is cooked daily. But women's decision-making capacity falls to 20 per cent for their children's education. It further declines to 6 per cent for women's decision on expensive household purchases. The study shows that women report the least agency regarding household budgets. Only 21 per cent of women report having the most say over how much money is spent on cooking for the family.


The study titled 'Urbanisation, gender, and social change: Do working women enjoy more agency?' by Megan Maxwell, University of Chicago, and Milan Vaishnav, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace examines the association between women's household decisions and labour force participation. It surveyed 15,000 households randomly sampled across Dhanbad, Indore, Patna and Varanasi.


Women's limited work participation in India is not only of economic significance but also has ramifications for their well-being and societal status. 


Working women have more influence in household decisions


There is a distinct agency advantage to working women across the board. Working women are 12 per cent more likely to make decisions about cooking, but just 3 per cent more likely to decide about appliance purchases. However, women, regardless of work status, are the least likely to have a say on spending matters.


In both Indore and Varanasi, roughly 28 per cent of women respondents were classified as working. In Patna, this share is 25 per cent, while in Dhanbad, only 17 per cent of women worked. Across cities, 9 per cent of women report working for pay or goods, 3 per cent report working on a non-farm business, and 14 per cent report engaging in agricultural work.

 



Can work decide women's influence in the household? 


Working outside the home is linked to the most agency for women. The study found that women agricultural workers had the least influence in household matters. Not surprisingly, women who work for salary and pay appear to have the greatest agency advantage.

The study found that work outside of the household is the most connected to enhanced agency, while agricultural labour makes no difference to women's influence in household decisions.


Interestingly, the study says that wives of the household heads have the strongest decision-making power. On the other hand, daughters-in-law have the least agency for cooking and household purchases. Regardless of women's work status, men remain more likely to make the final decision on household budget across decision domains. 


Further the study hypothesis that perhaps working women enjoy higher agency regarding financial decisions only when they can exert greater autonomy over income derived from their own work.