Working Paper BETA #2023-27

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Title : ”Defamilializing” how women’s economic independence is measured


Abstract : This paper seeks to take the notion of women’s economic independence out of the study of income inequalities within couples. The aim is to propose a new definition of women’s economic independence, based on the concept of defamilialisation as defined by Lister. The women’s economic independence index (WEII) is based on a methodology that looks beyond the boundaries of the household to study women’s economic position. Defamilialisation operates on two levels. Firstly, women’s economic independence is measured in terms of the poverty line (60% of median income), in order to determine their ability to meet their primary needs through labour income and social benefits. Secondly, the indicator is based on a method of approximating individual incomes that differs from the method of individualizing incomes found in the literature, as it does not retain the assumption of equal or equitable distribution of certain social benefits, information on which is only available at household level. Instead, social assistance for married women or women in couples is approximated on the basis of available data on single female households, according to income level and number of children. The results of this indicator show that married or cohabitted women are the least economically independent, which confirms the importance of going beyond the household to also account for the economic situation of women.

Key-words : Women’s economic independence, Defamilialisation, Intra-household inequalities, Women poverty, Individualized income

JEL Classification : B54, I32, J12