Disempowered by Whom? Gender vs. Generation
Mitali Sen, University of Maryland
Sonya Rastogi, University of Maryland
Research on gender has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of decision-making questions in many household surveys. Our concern in this paper is that one potential line of research with these questions has been overlooked and that this neglect may limit our understanding of the results of earlier analyses. The questions actually tap into more than just a gender dimension of household decision-making. Women frequently respond that fathers-in-law or mothers-in-law have an important voice in these decisions. We argue that by ignoring the full dynamics of power distributions within a family, we may be conflating inequalities of gender with those of generation and thereby mis-specifying our models of empowerment. We use data from the new 40,000 household, India Human Development Survey, 2004-2005, to examine how a respondent’s lack of power is a function of gender and/or generation.