Academic journal article Journal of Economic Development

Decomposing Poverty-Inequality Linkages of Sources of Deprivation by Men-Headed and Women-Headed Households in Cameroon

Academic journal article Journal of Economic Development

Decomposing Poverty-Inequality Linkages of Sources of Deprivation by Men-Headed and Women-Headed Households in Cameroon

Article excerpt

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Understanding of the dynamic relationship between inequality-poverty reduction and gender disparities is necessary to appreciate pathways to improve household economic welfare. Ignoring the multiple sources of inequalities that blight the well-being of women will retard the development progress (Sen, 1999). Discrimination on the basis of race and gender can cause people to lower their aspirations and hopes, and undermine their investments in human capital (Becker, 1993). The 2012 World Bank Development Report on Gender Equity and Development indicate that policies designed by governments should focus on reducing disparities in terms of access and returns to key human capital, societal and demographic characteristics between men and women. These characteristics explain household welfare and are considered as income sources in this study.

Reducing disparities between men-headed and women-headed households along monetary and non-monetary dimensions would increase overall welfare. In this study we use the term men-headed (women-headed) households to indicate a household where the number of adult-men (adult-women) is greater than the number of adult-women (adult-men). We also have a gender-neutral household where the number of adult-men is equal to the number of adult-women. A household is considered as men-headed (women-headed) when the number of adult men (adult women) make up at least 55% of the total adult population. We use the concept of men-headed, women-headed and gender-neutral households as defined by Aryeetey et al. (2010). This classification hinges on the notion of headship based on gendered power control in the household because control over resources or gains because of characteristics attributed differently between men and women are due to divers economic and social reasons. Furthermore, statistics indicate that in households where the number of adult-men are greater than adult-women, these households tend to better-off. In the case of this study average per capita expenditure (see Table 1A in Appendix) for men-headed household is greater than gender-neutral and female-headed households.

Gender disparity is perceived in this study along the line of differences in welfare outcomes between men-headed and women-headed households. Generally, since men and women are endowed differently, households where the larger proportion of adults is men may likely suffer less from deprivation outcomes than households where the larger proportion of adults is women. This is because adult men tend to be favoured in the labour market because they are generally more educate on average than women, and earn more money than women. In addition, cultural setting tends to attribute to men certain advantages. The resulting effect is that in men-headed households, the stock of capabilities that can be transformed into functionings is greater than their corresponding women-headed households.

Furthermore, unequal opportunities between these two groups of households fuel overall inequality. This study argues that if we divide the population into the men-headed and women-headed households, total inequality can be decomposed into inequality within the women-headed household group, inequality within the men-headed household group and inequality between the men-headed and women-headed households. Simultaneously studying the poverty-inequality linkage entails evaluating how much overall poverty would decline if one of these three kinds of inequality declines, holding the others constant.

Among the 20 million inhabitants that live in Cameroon, about 51% are women (Government of Cameroon, 2009). Yet, gender-bias or gender-neutral behaviours adversely affect women than their male counterparts (Sikod, 2007). Many factors limit the economic growth of women and are responsible for poverty, especially in the rural areas (Epo et al., 2011). This situation is believed to weaken the foundations for sustainable development, undermining the country's social fabric, and acting as the potential cause of stagnation observed in the fight to curb poverty. …

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