193903 Infrastructure, women's time allocation, and economic development: A multidisciplinary theoretical model

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pierre-Richard Agénor, PhD , School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Madina Agénor, MPH , Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background: Research shows that infrastructure—namely access to safe water, sanitation, electricity, and transportation—may have a sizable impact on health outcomes in low-income countries. The detrimental effects of poor access to infrastructure on health disproportionately affect women—especially poor women in rural areas—who tend to allocate considerably more time to household production than men. No study has explicitly explored the role that women's access to infrastructure plays in shaping the relationship between gender and economic development using a multidisciplinary theoretical model that draws on macroeconomics, gender studies, and public health.

Methods: This paper uses a three-period, gender-based overlapping generations model to investigate how women's access to infrastructure affects their time allocation and, in turn, economic development.

Results: Greater access to infrastructure can increase the efficiency of women's time allocated to home production and child rearing activities such that they can dedicate more time to market labor, education, and their own health care. These activities have a positive effect on economic development, as healthier and more educated women can make greater contributions to the economy.

Discussion: This paper suggests that investing in women's health is a productive activity, which could be best achieved by improving their access to infrastructure. While government expenditures on education and health contribute to economic development, public spending on infrastructure may have a greater impact on economic growth as a result of its effects not only on access to education and health services, but also on the efficiency of women's time allocation.

Learning Objectives:
Explore the relationships between gender, infrastructure, time use, and economic development; Discuss the implications for public policy and government spending; and Identify the major components of gender-based overlapping generations (OLG) theoretical models, as well as their potential uses in public health.

Keywords: Economic Analysis, Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I reviewed the background literature for this project, drafted the background section of the paper, contributed to various components of the analytic model that served as the basis of this paper, and helped identify the study's implications for women's health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.