EVENT@IFPRI, November 30: Gender Bargaining Power: Are We Producing Meaningful Empirical Work?

The IFPRI Gender Task Force invites you to a Gender Methods Seminar:

Gender Bargaining Power: Are We Producing Meaningful Empirical Work?

Presented by Professor Mieke Meurs, American University

Discussant: Agnes Quisumbing, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI

Wednesday, November 30, 12:00pm-1:00pm

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Over the past 3 decades, the concept of gender bargaining power and the related concept of women’s agency have become central to economic theory and public policy.  A very significant body of literature now exists measuring gender bargaining power and agency, examining factors associated with bargaining power, and measuring the relationship between power and welfare outcomes.  More recently, however, these measures have received more critical attention.  Kishor and Subaiya (2008) provided a major contribution in this area, using cross sectional data from 28 countries to show that levels of bargaining power and factors associated with bargaining power vary significantly depending on how bargaining power is measured, and that little cross-country generalization is possible about factors associations with great bargaining power.

In this paper, we extend this discussion of the meaning and relevance of our, now widely accepted, measures of bargaining power.   We highlight significant gaps between bargaining theory and the measures of bargaining power used in empirical work, raising questions about what we are measuring. Using data from 1999-2011 for one country (Bangladesh), we extend Kishor and Subaiya (2008).  We highlight consistency and variation in factors associated with bargaining power both across measures and over time, even with the context of a single country. We use this analysis to motivate a critical discussion of future directions for the use of bargaining power in empirical and policy work.

Presenter’s Bio:

Mieke Meurs is Professor of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University. She has published extensively on household behavior, including gender issues, and with particular focus on rural households. She holds a Ph.d. from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a B.S. in Political Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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