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Preprints, Working Papers, ... (Working Paper) Year : 2024

Women's Empowerment and Husband's Migration: Evidence from Indonesia


Migration is an important risk-coping mechanism for poor households in developing countries. However, migration decisions may be sub-optimal in the presence of limited commitment between spouses. In this paper, we examine the link between the distribution of power in marriage and the decision to split-migrate (one spouse migrates alone) in Indonesia. We exploit a national policy experiment that exogenously increased women's bargaining power among ethnic groups of matrilocal tradition - the couple lives with the bride's relatives - relative to patrilocal groups. The propensity of matrilocal husbands to split-migrate, relative to patrilocal husbands, increases by 2-3.4 percentage points, i.e. a rise of 41-76%, following the reform. We suggest that empowered women may have gained control ex ante over outcomes that are costlier to monitor for husbands once they migrate. Hence, empowerment restores some efficiency in migration decisions by reducing the anticipated information asymmetry and the moral hazard associated with migration. Consistently, we show that households with empowered women are more able to cushion shocks due to natural disasters and, among all households experiencing split-migration, matrilocal women are better off than their patrilocal counterparts. We provide a theoretical framework that rationalizes the intra-household mechanisms behind these intuitions.
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Dates and versions

hal-04409953 , version 1 (22-01-2024)



  • HAL Id : hal-04409953 , version 1


Olivier Bargain, Jordan Loper, Roberta Ziparo. Women's Empowerment and Husband's Migration: Evidence from Indonesia. 2024. ⟨hal-04409953⟩
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