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Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
  • Social Sciences, Biomedical
  • Biomedical Social Sciences
  • Average treatment effect
  • Bangladesh
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Economic coercion
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Microfinance
  • Propensity score methods
  • Savings groups
  • Women's agency
  • Women's empowerment
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  • EMPOWERMENT
  • CREDIT
  • MICROCREDIT
  • BANGLADESH
  • LOANS

Women's participation in microfinance: Effects on Women's agency, exposure to partner violence, and mental health

Tools:

Journal Title:

SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE

Volume:

Volume 270, Number

Publisher:

, Pages 113686-113686

Type of Work:

Article

Abstract:

Objectives: The health and social effects of women's microfinance participation remain debated. Methods: Using propensity-score methods, we assessed effects of microfinance participation on novel measures of agency; intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure; and depressive symptoms in 930 wives in Matlab, Bangladesh interviewed 11/2018–01/2019. Results: Participants, versus non-participants, were married younger (16.7 vs. 17.4 years), more often Muslim (90.7% vs. 86.2%), less schooled (5.4 vs. 6.8 grades), and more often had husbands (27.0% vs. 19.6%) and mothers (63.2% vs. 50.5%) without schooling. Participants and non-participants had similar unadjusted mean scores for prior-week depressive symptoms, prior-year IPV, and intrinsic attitudinal agency (gender-equitable attitudes; non-justification of wife beating). Participants had higher unadjusted mean scores for intrinsic voice/mobility; instrumental agency (using financial services, voice with husband, voice/mobility outside home); and collective agency. Average adjusted treatment effects were non-significant for depressive symptoms, IPV, and attitudinal intrinsic agency, and significantly favorable for other agency outcomes. Conclusions: Microfinance participation had no adverse health effects and favorable empowerment effects in Bangladeshi wives. Policy Implications. Microfinance can empower women without adverse health effects. Social-norms programming with men and women may be needed to change gendered expectations about the distribution of unpaid labor and the rights of women.
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