Do Economics Trump Culture? Effects of Women's Work and Relative Economic Resources on Married Women's Authority in Household Decisionmaking in Jordan
Temsah, Gheda Khodr
MetadataShow full item record
The effects of work on women's household decisionmaking authority have been documented in many empirical studies. However, few studies have explored its effects in a social context where women's labor force participation is low. Little is known about the conditions through which women's work enhances authority within the household. Using 2007 Jordan Demographic and Health Survey I explore the effects of women's work and relative economic resources on their authority in household decisionmaking net of culturally relevant sources of power. The country has enhanced its human capital base, developed new industries and promoted women's work, but it also remains a bastion of traditional gender norms. Drawing on resource theory, gender performance theories, theories of institutionalized patriarchy and bargaining approaches, I argue that women's work and relative economic resources matter more for some dimensions of household decisionmaking than others. Engagement in the labor market confers exclusive control over matters of personal wellbeing, while enhancing women's leverage to participate in family management decisions. However, only women in nuclear households experience the benefits of productive work on authority in household decisionmaking. Results confirm the multidimensionality of household decisionmaking power, and a possible causal effect of work participation. While individual factors matter, regardless of women's economic resources and other characteristics, living in regions with high socio-economic development and less patriarchal norms is associated with greater decisionmaking authority. The results of this research contribute to our understanding of women's empowerment by empirically demonstrating the conditions under which economic resources may trump cultural scripts, when cultural factors may matter more, and when the two interact.