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Roads, women’s employment, and gender equity: Evidence from Cambodia

Sebastian Anti and Zhihui Zhang

World Development, 2023, vol. 171, issue C

Abstract: Much recent research has focused on the local economic effects of road development but has neglected how investments in infrastructure can affect socio-cultural dynamics. This study uses data from the Demographic and Health Surveys to measure the effects of a road building program in Cambodia on women’s employment, use of contraception, attitudes regarding and experience with domestic violence, and decision making over resources in the household within a spatial differences-in-differences framework. We find that the amount of road built within 15 km of a respondent’s home results in increases in women’s ability to make decisions over their healthcare, household spending decisions, and ability to refuse sex with one’s partner. We also find that exposure to the program results in a decrease in acceptance and experience of spousal abuse, particularly non-physical abuse. This occurs despite finding that the road program had a negative effect on the likelihood that respondents work outside the home. We conclude that road construction has a measurable and large impact on the social and economic position of women and this can be the case even while women become less involved in work outside the home.

Keywords: Roads; Female empowerment; Domestic violence; Gender equity; Employment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J16 O12 O53 R40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2023.106361

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