Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 187–206 | Cite as

Women’s Agency and the Quality of Family Relationships in India

  • Keera Allendorf


The role of family context in determining women’s agency has been addressed through kinship patterns, household structure, and domestic violence. This study suggests that another aspect of family context—family relationship quality—can also influence women’s agency. Data from the Women’s Reproductive Histories Survey, collected in Madhya Pradesh, India, are used to examine whether family relationship quality is a determinant of women’s agency. Results show that women with higher quality relationships with husbands and parents-in-law do have greater agency. Further, family relationship quality is just as influential as other well known determinants of agency, including education and employment.


Family Marital quality Gender Empowerment Agency India 



The author would like to thank Michel Guillot, Elizabeth Thomson, Myra Marx Ferree, and Giovanna Merli for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. The author would also like to thank the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) for generously providing access to data from the Women’s Reproductive Histories Survey. This research was supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Support Grant from the National Science Foundation and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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