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Managing Economic Volatility. A Gender Perspective

Elena Reboul, Isabelle Guérin, Antony Raj and G. Venkatasubramanian

No 19-015, Working Papers CEB from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: The implications of income and expenses volatility in terms of financial practices have been widely documented, demonstrating the critical role of money management in the survival of vulnerable households. The gender of this, however, is a neglected dimension. Based on data collected in South India combining ethnography and Financial Diaries, with 8 households followed for 9 months and data disaggregated by sex, this paper discusses the methodological and theoretical implications of a gender analysis of income volatility, its management and its burden. In our context of study characterized by dynamic processes of financialisation, low and volatile incomes give to credit a prominent place in budget management strategies, both from the side of inflows and outflows. Economic volatility tends to blur the boundaries between expense, saving, credit and income; and these shifts in turn question the categories of recipient, (female) money manager or (male) breadwinner. While women tend to earn low incomes, they borrow a substantial part of household debts: and accounting for these practices alters sometimes drastically the vision of their role as breadwinners that could stem from their sole earnings. Besides, beyond borrowing, women are predominantly the ones who shoulder the responsibility for debt settlement, a task that requires skills, time, and the involvement in all a range of secondary activities aiming at ensuring repayment capacity and creditworthiness. The burden of economic volatility appears thereby to be gendered, strengthening women's unpaid domestic duties through this "labour of the debt''.

Keywords: gender; debt; volatility; division of labor; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D14 J16 O16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-07-22
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lab
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