University of Sussex
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Women’s intra-household bargaining power and child welfare outcomes: evidence from Sub–Saharan Africa

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posted on 2023-06-09, 16:10 authored by Sarah Saaka
This thesis addresses three key research questions, which explore empirically, the links between women’s relative intra-household bargaining power and child welfare outcomes in Sub-Saharan African households. The first empirical study examines the effects of a woman’s decision-making power on the nutrition outcomes of Ghanaian children under five years of age using two measures. First, using an index-based measure of a woman’s overall involvement in household decision-making, relative to her partner, indicates positive effects of a mother’s bargaining power on child nutrition. Second, measures of bargaining power which further distinguish between equal power and sole decision-making power relative to her partner for separate spheres of decision-making are used. The results show that better child nutrition outcomes are associated with being in households where the power balance between women and their partners is equal. This suggests that even though child nutrition is positively associated with women’s bargaining power, policy interventions that promote balanced bargaining power may better enhance child nutrition outcomes. In the next chapter, the impact of another aspect of intra-household bargaining power, a mother’s report of her experience of domestic violence on child survival, is studied using Demographic and Health Survey data from six sub-Saharan African countries, spanning 2008 and 2013. The analysis of a mother’s experience of emotional, physical and sexual violence on infant mortality, nutrition and illness, provides limited evidence that women’s exposure to domestic violence is a threat to infant mortality. The results of this study also show that while women’s exposure to violence might potentially affect child survival, its effects are varied across countries. The third substantive chapter studies the effects of a woman’s relative bargaining power on boys’ and girls’ educational achievement in Ghana measured by test scores, while a woman’s ownership of a range of economic assets relative to her partner are used as measures of her bargaining power. Based on data from a national survey by the University of Ghana and Yale University’s Economic Growth Centre in 2008/2009, the study finds limited evidence that a woman’s ownership of household durable assets and agricultural land, are more significantly associated with the educational achievement of children. The conclusion from this study is that based on the evidence available, other factors seem to be more important for children’s educational achievement than the relative bargaining power of their mothers.


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University of Sussex

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