World Health & Population

World Health & Population 10(2) April 2008 : pre-print.doi:10.12927/whp.2008.19930

Work Status and Health of Women: A Comparative Study of Northern and Southern States of Rural India

Sharmishtha Basu and Shiv Narayan Sidh


The paper examines the net effect of work status on women's health and whether the effect persists after controlling for the influence of socio-economic factors. Our hypothesis is that working women face a greater risk of morbidity and mortality, given that most would be expected to shoulder dual responsibilities: market and household. The paper also examines whether the risk varies across regions. In particular, we examine whether the work status-health relationship differs between the southern and northern regions of India, which are known to be distinct in female autonomy.

While women in India face many serious health concerns, this analysis focuses on only two issues: nutritional status (as measured by body mass index and prevalence of anemia) and reproductive health (as assessed by the presence of reproductive health problems) of women from villages in the study area. Results show that though both work status and socio-economic factors influence health status, the latter are more important; most of the gross effect of work status is due to socio-economic conditions rather than work participation. This calls for policy intervention in providing better health facilities, female education and supplementary nutrition programs for poor women.



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