Women’s empowerment and family formation across the life course in Madhya Pradesh, India: the influence of time-varying and fixed empowerment resources.

Kerry MacQuarrie, University of Washington

Women’s empowerment both influences and is influenced by life course events like family formation. Yet, most studies describe empowerment as a fixed attribute, ignoring lifecourse variations. This paper examines its dynamic changes over the life course using retrospective data from 2,444 married women in Madhya Pradesh, India on reproductive events and empowerment (mobility, spending decisionmaking) for 11,309 pregnancy intervals from marriage until the time of survey. In a structural model modeling endogeneity, I analyze the influence of initial empowerment resources and socio-demographic determinants (education, spousal age gap, age at marriage) with time-varying determinants (childbearing pressures, family size, sex composition) of women’s empowerment at marriage and each pregnancy interval until family formation is complete. I find that empowerment is responsive to emerging empowerment resources, namely family formation. Initial empowerment resources enhance initial empowerment, and women’s final empowerment is determined by their family formation and initial empowerment, but not initial empowerment resources.

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Presented in Session 40: Women's empowerment: measures and determinants