An Empirical Examination of Sustainability of Women’s Empowerment Using Panel Data from India

Sonia Akter, Namrata Chindarkar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In this article, we empirically test the sustainability of women’s empowerment using representative and rich individual-level panel data from India for the years 2004−5 and 2011−12. Sustainability is defined in terms of durability (whether empowerment is carried forward or continues in the long run) and diffusion (whether empowerment has positive spillover effects). A domain-based framework is used to capture the multidimensional nature of empowerment. In terms of durability, we find that the majority of the women remained empowered over time. The baseline characteristics that determine empowerment durability are (1) individual capabilities such as age, education, and wage work, (2) asset endowment, and (3) opportunity structure such as access to water, electricity, and owning a toilet. Additionally, we find that a change in collective assets over time is positively and significantly correlated with empowerment durability. Finally, we observe that empowerment has a significant diffusion effect from empowered women to other women in the same household as well as to women who do not co-reside but share family ties. These findings imply that empowerment is dynamic and the social benefit of empowering women appears considerably higher than what has been previously estimated when its long-term effects are considered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)890-906
    JournalThe Journal of Development Studies
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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