Does lower fertility empower women? Evidence from rural Bangladesh

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Theoretically, lower fertility should enhance female autonomy. However, the impact of reduced fertility on female empowerment could be heterogeneous and differ by regions. In this paper, using a Family Planning Program in Bangladesh as an instrument for fertility, I find that lower fertility gives women access to economic resources and control over their practice of clothing and greater physical mobility. I also find that there is a trade-off in female autonomy resulting from reduced fertility. In developing countries, where the women's position in the marriage is weak, lower fertility reduces the decision making power of the women and curtails their property rights.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100813
Number of pages10
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Empowerment
  • Family planning program
  • Women

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