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Welfare implications of female headship in Jamaican households (English)

The paper first compares the economic status of male- and female-headed households and then the authors analyze differences in the use of resources (time and money) between the two groups. Finally, the paper focuses on the relative well-being of the children in these households. The authors' findings show that poverty and female headship are weakly linked. For instance, by drawing a poverty line that labels 10 percent of the Jamaican population as poor, the result is that 9 percent of people living in male-headed households are poor versus 11.1 percent of people living in female-headed households. This result is based on per capita consumption as the welfare indicator. If other indicators are used, or poverty measures other than the head count index, the differences become even smaller. If the main cause of concern for female-headed households is the expectation that female headship is highly correlated with poverty, then this concern can be put to rest. The study finds some evidence of small differences in resource use between the two types of households. Labor force participation data indicate that female heads are more likely to work in the market place than women with similar characteristics who are spouses of male heads of households. Again, the differences are small: on average 64.5 percent versus 57.9 percent. The analyses of household expenditures shows that female-headed households spend no more on food than do male headed households. However, when looking at more detailed food expenditures the differences are more pronounced. Female headships appear to be associated with spending on higher quality food items such as meat, vegetables, milk and other dairy products. Perhaps the most important question answered in this study is to what extent female headship influences child welfare. The results show that children in female-headed households have equal access to social services and equally good welfare outcomes as do the children in male-headed households.


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    Louat, Frederic Grosh, Margaret E. van der Gaag, Jacques

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    Latin America & Caribbean,

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    Welfare implications of female headship in Jamaican households

  • Keywords

    female head of household;Population and Human Resources;welfare implication;female labor force participation;per capita consumption;per capita consumption level;nutritional status of child;female headship;rental value of owner;women in developing countries;average number of child;average level of education;access to health care;health status of children;woman head of household;single person household;child welfare outcomes;adult equivalence scale;human capital characteristics;welfare level;consumer price index;high quality food;regional economic crisis;multivariate regression analysis;labor market activity;source income;primary school enrollment;extent of poverty;source of income;treatment of children;labor force activity;local condition;return to education;income generating activity;analysis of poverty;absence of discrimination;distribution of consumption;participation of girl;issue of gender;household survey data;social sector policy;labor market outcome;representative data set;level of consumption;risk of poverty;household structure;young child;household welfare;rural area;working age;enrollment rate;children of ages;regional price;household size;working woman;secondary level;household expenditure;multivariate analysis;empirical analysis;legal marriage;adult children;consumption expenditure;household data;educational level;welfare distribution;domestic chore;age structure;primary level;financial capital;formal schooling;total consumption;household head;density function;



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Louat, Frederic Grosh, Margaret E. van der Gaag, Jacques

Welfare implications of female headship in Jamaican households (English). Living standards measurement study (LSMS) working paper ; no. LSM 96 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.