Monster-in-Law? The Effect of Coresident Mother-in-Law on the Welfare of Bangladeshi Daughters-in-Law

Rekha Varghese, University of Chicago

In countries where the patriarchal joint family is the norm, most women live with their husband’s family in the early years of marriage. This paper investigates the causal effect of coresidence with the mother-in-law on the welfare of daughters-in-law. Data on 4053 currently married women of rural Bangladesh is analyzed using Fixed Effects and Heckman’s Selection Correction models to capture the ‘mother-in-law effect’. Results indicate that living with the mother-in-law undermine women’s autonomy and adversely affect their well-being. Women coresiding with the mother-in-law are less likely to participate in microcredit projects. Mothers-in-law also have detrimental effects on the BMI of coresident daughters-in-law. The study sheds light on the degree of responsibility that women themselves have in perpetuating their inferior status, and indicates the need for using targeted behavior change communication tools to promote female empowerment and improve the utilization of developmental programs in areas ranging from women’s healthcare to microcredit.

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Presented in Poster Session 4