Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1225–1255 | Cite as

What influence do empowered women have? Land and the reality of women’s relative power in Peru

  • Mara José Montenegro Guerra
  • Sandeep MohapatraEmail author
  • Brent Swallow


Using primary data from rural Peru and a novel econometric framework, this paper evaluates the effects of gendered land inheritance on women’s relative power. We find limited evidence that increasing a woman’s landholdings increases her power; while an increase in landholdings of men in her household decreases her power. A coincident increase in land for both has significant empowering effects. Thus, gender policies need to go beyond interventions that exclusively target women—empowering women also requires empowering men in specific ways. We also provide fresh insight into using women’s empowerment for economic development by distinguishing power from the influence that women possess over specific household decisions because of their power. We characterize each influence (e.g., household expenditures) by two statistics—threshold (the level of empowerment required to awaken the influence) and sensitivity (the response of the influence to marginal increases in power). We find that different thresholds of power are required for women to influence different household decisions. Credit and land-rental require much greater power and are less sensitive than livestock, household-goods, or management of agricultural land. Distinguishing power from influence adds great value to the survey questions now used to create indices of women’s power.


Intra-household Relative power Influence, gender Item response theory Land Peru 



This research was supported by a grant from the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research program of the CGIAR. We thank the staff of the International Potato Center (CIP), especially Cecilia Turin, for help and support with fieldwork. The usual disclaimer applies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Mara José Montenegro Guerra
    • 1
  • Sandeep Mohapatra
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brent Swallow
    • 2
  1. 1.NorQuest CollegeEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Resource Economics & Environmental Scociology (REES)University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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