Concepts, Research, Policy
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Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 53: Household Wealth and Women’s Poverty: Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Assessing Gender Inequality in Asset Ownership
Carmen Diana Deere One of the main criticisms levelled at poverty studies is that they are inevitably based on the household as the unit of analysis. This means that a gender analysis of poverty is usually limited to analysing the differences between male and female household heads or men and women based on per capita indicators (Medeiros and Costa, 2008; also Sen, Chapter 13, this volume). This approach tells us little about the relative poverty of men and women within households and specifically, about the situation of women in maleheaded households. This chapter considers the extent to which a focus on asset ownership can shed light on intrahousehold inequality and hence, on women’s poverty relative to men’s. A trend in recent poverty studies is that they complement income or consumption measures with broader measures that take into account the multifaceted dimensions of poverty. Among these approaches are those that focus on a household’s standard of living as measured by deprivations (in respect of running water, electricity, and so on) and the assets-based approach. Assets-based studies generally give combined attention to human, physical, financial, natural and social capital assets (see Moser, Chapter 60, this volume). To date neither of these approaches has been gendered beyond the usual headship measure. Deere and Doss (2006) propose a focus on the gender distribution of wealth as a means of examining gender inequality within the household. Economists define wealth as the value of physical and financial assets minus debt (Davies, 2008). The standard components of...
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