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THREE ESSAYS ON WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT: LESSONS FROM GHANA AND THAILAND
This dissertation consists of three essays that examine fundamental development challenges affecting women’s and men’s livelihoods in Ghana and Thailand. The first essay of this dissertation studies the effects of joint and individual land rights on men’s and women’s voice, or their ability to influence the use of agricultural earnings. It also investigates how men’s voice and women’s voice impact per capita consumption of market-produced, homegrown, and total food. Using the 2012 Feed the Future Baseline Survey from Ghana, this paper focuses on a sub-sample of married male and female farmers living in the Upper West, Upper East, Brong Ahafo, and Northern Regions of Ghana. The regression results indicate that land ownership, especially individual land rights, empowers both men and women by strengthening their ability to influence the use of agricultural earnings. Stronger influence over how agricultural earnings are used, in turn, enables both men and women to leverage the resources available to provide for household food security; per capita consumption of homegrown and total food raises when men and women have greater voice. These findings underline the importance of improving access to and ownership of land to economically and socially empower male and female farmers and to help address the chronic issue of food insecurity in Ghana.The second essay investigates how time in domestic and care work and in income-generating work activities is correlated with women’s and men’s abilities to become active members of economic and social groups. These groups include producers’ and resource users’ groups; religious groups; civic groups; and credit and savings groups. Using the 2012 Feed the Future Population Based Survey from Ghana, this paper focuses on a sub-sample of married women and men living in dual-adult households. The regression results indicate that women’s time in domestic and care tasks is negatively correlated with the probability of becoming active group members in producers’ and resource users’ groups, civic groups, and religious groups. In contrast, the amount of time men spend in domestic and care work is not correlated with their group membership. While women’s time in income-generating activities has no influence on their membership in producers’ and resource users’ and civic groups, their active membership in religious groups along with credit and savings groups complements their time in income-generating work. Men’s time in income-generating activities increases their participation in these economic and social groups, especially in producers’ and resource users’ groups. Combining domestic and care work with income-generating work time, an increase in women’s total workload decreases their membership in producers’ and resource users’ groups, civic groups, and religious groups and increases their participation in credit and savings groups. Men’s total workload, on the other hand, increases their participation in producers’ and resource users’ groups, civic groups, along with credit and savings groups. These results point to the importance of accommodating women’s work responsibilities as a strategy to increase women’s opportunities to receive development services delivered through community-based groups.The third essay examines the relationships between children’s time in work activities and the labor supply of their parents in the context of Thailand. Market work as well as domestic and care tasks are the two types of children’s work activities considered in this analysis. The empirical analysis is based on the 2009 Labor Force and Time Use Surveys. The results indicate that children’s time in market work is a complement to parents’ labor supply. The complementary relationships are more pronounced between mothers’ and older girls’ labor supply and between fathers’ and older boys’ time in market activities, providing support for gender segregation in the relationships between parents’ and older children’s labor supply. In terms of domestic and care tasks, the regression estimates show that changes in parents’ labor supply do not have significant influence on children’s time in domestic and care tasks, particularly among girls, but boys’ time in domestic and care tasks is found to be a weak substitute for parents’ labor supply. The findings suggest that anti-poverty or expansionary policies that aim to increase adult labor force participation can have a spillover effect on children by increasing the need for older children to be involved in market work activities.
NotesElectronic thesis available to American University authorized users only, per author's request.
Degree grantorAmerican University. Department of Economics