Theses Doctoral

The Gender Dynamics in Intrahousehold Allocation of Resources

Muchomba, Felix Muchiri

I examine whether policies that specifically target gender inequality improve the well-being of women and girls. In the first paper I study the impact of Ethiopia’s gendered land certification programs on household consumption patterns and infant and under-five mortality. After years of communism during which all land was nationalized, in 1998, Ethiopia embarked on a land tenure reform program. The reform began in Tigray region where land certificates were issued to household heads, who were largely male. In a second phase carried out during 2003-2005, three other regions, Amhara, Oromia, and SNNP, issued land certificates jointly to household heads and spouses, presenting variation in land tenure security by gender. I leverage this variation in land certification across regions and over time, to study whether inclusion of women yielded different effects. Using data from the Ethiopia Demographic and Household Surveys and longitudinal data from the Ethiopia Rural Household Survey I construct a treatment group of male-headed households in joint land certification regions and a comparison group of male-headed households in Tigray and study changes between the two groups after implementation of their respective land certification programs. I find that, compared to household-head land certification, joint certification was accompanied by increased household consumption of food, health care, women’s clothing, and girls’ clothing, and a decrease in girls’ infant and under-five mortality. These effects are largely restricted to households with illiterate mothers indicating that inclusion of women in land tenure reform empowered previously disempowered women who then used their improved position to allocate more household resources to their daughters.
In the second paper, I examine the relationship between women's land ownership and participation in transactional sex, multiple sexual partnerships and unprotected sex, and HIV infection status. Using a sample of 5,511 women working in the agricultural sector from the 1998, 2003 and 2008–09 Kenya Demographic and Health Surveys, I find that women's land ownership is associated with fewer sexual partners in the past year and lower likelihood of engaging in transactional sex, indicators of reduced survival sex, but is not associated with unprotected sex with casual partners, indicating no difference in safer sex negotiation. Land ownership is also associated with reduced HIV infection among women most likely to engage in survival sex, i.e., women not under the household headship of a husband, but not among women living in husband-headed households, for whom increased negotiation for safer sex would be more relevant.
The third paper examines the prevalence of son preference in families of East and South Asian origin living in the United States by investigating parental time investments in children using American Time Use Surveys. The results show that East and South Asian mothers spend more total time and more quality time with their young (aged 0-5 years) sons than with young daughters while fathers’ time with young children is gender neutral. I find gender specialization in time with children aged 6-17 with fathers spending more time with sons and mothers spending more time with daughters.
These findings document health and social consequences of gender inequities within households. The findings also highlight that gender-sensitive policies have the potential to transform intrahousehold dynamics and help realize gender equality policy objectives.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Kaushal, Neeraj
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 12, 2015