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How meaningful is the concept of household headship—that is, anchoring data about a household to a certain individual—in economic research? Is it just a convenient way to organize data, or can differences between male- and female-headed households provide useful insight into women's empowerment or poverty in a region?
On this week's podcast, IFPRI's Agnes Quisumbing and CGD's Dominique van de Walle joined me to take up this widely debated question. In our conversation, we discussed the contexts in which headship is (and isn't) useful, the importance of the circumstances leading to female headship, and how headship can relate to women's property rights and financial security.
Megan O'Donnell is the assistant director of CGD's gender program and a senior policy analyst.