Essays on Female Empowerment and Its Health Consequences in West Africa
Orfei, Alessandro Emilio
Cropper, Maureen L
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Part 1: The Impact of Female Empowerment on Men's Extramarital Sexual Behavior: Evidence from West Africa Improving women's bargaining power to negotiate safer sex with their partner is widely seen as fundamental to reducing women's vulnerability to HIV infection, although little causal evidence has been provided. This paper uses exogenous variation in a determinant of female bargaining power, women's kin support, to identify the causal effect of women's empowerment on men's extramarital sexual behavior. I establish the relevance of kin support shocks for measures of bargaining power such as women's reported decision-making authority over major and daily household purchases, women's healthcare, and household cooking decisions. Reduced form estimates indicate that having one more adult male sibling alive leads to a decrease of 1.3 percent in the probability of her husband's extramarital behavior. However, the number of living adult female siblings does not influence her husband's behavior. A measure of shocks to kin support, captured by the death of a woman's young siblings, is shown to increase her husband's extramarital behavior. The kin support measures are balanced across observables and results are robust to excluding households in which women's relatives reside, as well as alternate definitions of the kin support measures. This suggests that a woman's bargaining power within the household does influence the likelihood of her husband's extramarital sexual behavior, and thus her risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Part 2: Kin Support, Female Bargaining Power, and Fertility Do decreases in a woman's bargaining power relative to her husband lead to higher fertility? This paper attempts to answer this question in the context of West Africa using shocks over time to a determinant of a woman's bargaining power, her kin support, to identify the causal effect. Kin support shocks are captured by deaths of a woman's young siblings, which are argued to be an indication that the woman's natal family has suffered a negative shock. The shocks are shown to be relevant across couples for women's reported household decision-making authority. I exploit differences in the timing of the shocks across couples over time to estimate how changes in a woman's bargaining power impact a couple's fertility. A couple is on average 2.5 percentage points more likely to have a child in any given year after the woman has experienced an additional post-marriage young sibling death. The effect is robust to removing village-year and country-cohort-year effects among other controls. Analysis of the dynamics of fertility changes relative to the timing of the shocks support the validity of the findings.