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Microloans and Women’s Freedom of Physical Mobility: Evidence from India

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Earlier studies in India have documented both positive and negative effects of microloans on women; however, most of the studies have been qualitative in nature or geographically limited and have largely ignored sociocultural variations in the country that might influence the effectiveness of microloan programs. The present study uses nationally representative data from India, from the third wave of the National Family Health Survey (nfhs-3), and logistic regression to examine if getting a microloan affects women’s access to spaces outside their home, and whether this effect varies by the prevailing gender norms in their respective communities. The sample consists of 37,003 women aged 18-49 who were “usual residents” and knew about microloan programs in their communities. Results of the analysis indicate that the likelihood of full mobility (i.e., being allowed to go alone to the market, health facilities, and places outside the community) is higher for women who had taken a microloan, even after controlling for the effects of other individual-level and community-level predictors. Results also indicate that the microloan effect on women’s mobility does not differ by the normative context of their respective communities.

Affiliations: 1: University of North; 2: University of North


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