Institute of Economic Growth
Centre for Development Economics


Which women Own Land in India? Inter-gender and intra-gender gaps


Bina Agarwal (University of Manchester, England) 

Friday, 11 December 2020 at 3:30 P.M.


Measuring gender inequality in land ownership is essential for assessing progress in women’s economic empowerment, tracing the impact of progressive laws, and monitoring SDG 5. To effectively assess inter-gender (male-female) gaps in land ownership, however, requires multiple measures. We also need to know which women are more likely to own land by tracing intra-gender differences. This paper uses unique longitudinal data to measure inter-gender gaps in agricultural land ownership through multiple indicators, and changes over 2009-2014 across nine states. It also analyses intra-gender gaps and identifies the factors affecting a woman’s likelihood of owning land. Despite growing equality in inheritance laws, women are found to constitute barely 14% of landowners, owning 11% of land in landowning households, averaged across states. Moreover, they are significantly more likely to inherit land as widows than as daughters, highlighting the divergence between the legal strengthening of daughters’ rights and the continued social legitimacy enjoyed by widows’ claims.

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