IGIDR WORKING PAPER: Women’s nutritional empowerment and their well-being Identifying key drivers in India and Bangladesh

NO : WP-2019-004

AUTHOR : Sudha Narayanan, Udayan Rathore, Mohit Sharma

TITLE : Women’s nutritional empowerment and their well-being Identifying key drivers in India and Bangladesh


This paper uses six nationally representative household surveys from India and Bangladesh to examine
the link between women’s empowerment and their own nutritional status. Using a recently developed
concept of nutritional empowerment, we first assess the degree to which these surveys capture its
constituent elements. After identifying the relevant variables in these surveys that best represent the
various aspects of nutritional empowerment, we use these surveys to estimate the relative contribution
of different factors of nutritional empowerment to women’s nutritional outcomes, specifically BMI (in
India and Bangladesh) and anemia (in India). While there are a number of approaches to decomposing
the contribution of various factors driving nutrition, we present a novel application of the
Shapley-Owen decomposition method, hitherto not applied in the context of determinants of nutritional
status. This decomposition method reflects not just the independent, standalone contribution of a
specific factor, but a factor’s contribution including possible interaction with other factors of nutritional
empowerment. Consistent across the surveys, we find that resources, particularly those of health and
food drive BMI, while resources relating to health and fertility overwhelmingly determine haemoglobin
levels (anemia) in India. We also find that the contribution of knowledge and agency correlate positively
with resources, suggesting that these dimensions are complementary. Our findings suggest that policies
aimed at empowering women must therefore not focus merely on providing knowledge or seek to
strengthen women’s decision-making roles in the family

Keywords:India, Bangladesh, women, nutritional empowerment, decomposition techniques,Shapley-Owen values

JEL Code :  J16, D13, I00, I3

Weblink :http://www.igidr.ac.in/pdf/publication/WP-2019-004.pdf