Friends in the village: Do they matter for women's involvement in household decisions?

Ben D'Exelle, Liz Ignowski

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It is often assumed that social connections are good for female empowerment in developing countries. However, growing evidence suggests that empowered women may face backlash from their spouse. In this paper, we analyze how the number of friends that wives have in their village affects the wives’ involvement in household decisions about their own health and their children’s health. To do so, we use data from 700 couples in 30 villages in rural Tanzania. We estimate the effect of the number of friends on the wife’s involvement in household decisions using a multinomial logit regression combined with a control function that deals with potential endogeneity bias. We find that wives with more friends are less likely to make decisions jointly with their husband, and are more likely to report that their husband makes decisions without their involvement. We further explore whether the effects depend on the “type” of friends, as defined by their gender and whether they are shared with the husband.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3005–3028
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Intra-household decision-making
  • Rural Tanzania
  • Social networks

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