Women’s Empowerment across the Life Course in Madhya Pradesh, India: The Influence of Time-Varying and Fixed-Time Covariates

Kerry MacQuarrie, University of Washington

Women’s empowerment both influences and is influenced by family formation processes. Yet, most studies describe empowerment as a fixed attribute, ignoring variations across the life course. This paper examines its dynamic changes over the life course. It uses retrospective data from a representative sample of 2,444 married women in Madhya Pradesh, India, that captures reproductive events, household circumstances, and empowerment (mobility, spending decision-making, violence) for each of 11,309 pregnancy intervals from marriage until the time of survey. In a structural model, I analyze the influence of initial empowerment resources and socio-demographic determinants (education, spousal age gap, age at marriage) with time-varying determinants (childbearing pressures, family size, sex composition) of women’s empowerment at marriage and each pregnancy interval to the time family formation is complete. I find that initial empowerment resources enhance initial empowerment, and that women’s final empowerment is determined by their family formation and initial empowerment, but not initial empowerment resources.

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Presented in Session 10: Empowerment, Agency and Gender Dynamics