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The Cost of Empowerment: Multiple Sources of Women’s Debt in Rural India

Supriya Garikipati, Isabelle Agier, Isabelle Guérin and Ariane Szafarz

No 14-007, Working Papers CEB from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: Poor women borrow from multiple sources. This study examines whether the source of debt matters for women’s role in household financial decisions. Drawing on a household survey from rural Tamil Nadu, we categorise women’s loans along the lines of accessibility and formality into ‘planned loans’ and ‘instant loans’. We find that ‘instant loans’ support women’s bargaining power in various types of household financial decisions, whereas ‘planned loans’ have no impact. This surprising result is better understood when the nature of ‘instant loans’ is examined – these are frequently usurious, involve coercive enforcement methods and considered socially debasing. Hence women who use them perform a convenient role for their husbands and in return gain some negotiating power.

Keywords: Debt; Women’s Empowerment; Microfinance; Tamil Nadu; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G24 L26 M13 O16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 45 p.
Date: 2014-03-27
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mfd
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Related works:
Journal Article: The Cost of Empowerment: Multiple Sources of Women’s Debt in Rural India (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: The Cost of Empowerment: Multiple Sources of Women’s Debt in Rural India (2016)
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