Gender Norms, Women’s Executive Function and Mental Health, and Anti-Poverty Programs: Experimental Evidence from India

The Freedom Center Spring 2020 Colloquium Series presents Tauhid Rahman, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics.

Tauhid Rahman is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics. Much of his research concerns the connections between gender and the economics of poverty. Professor Rahman was the Co-Principal Investigator of the National Science Foundation’s multidisciplinary Research Coordination Network (2012–2018) on sustainable food systems and food security. He is also a frequent visiting researcher at the World Bank and involved in several World Bank-supported research projects.

Sociocultural norms, executive function and mental health are powerful factors in an individual’s agency, decision-making, and development. Gender norms, for example, mediate the relationship between economic development and women’s labor market outcomes. Executive functions make it possible for a person to live, work, and learn. They are important for taking simple to complex actions, from cooking, shopping, nurturing children, planning, and to execution. Low executive functions can frustrate the success of anti-poverty and empowerment programs through participants’ inadequate planning, improper utilization of resources, and the lack of timely actions. Similarly, mental and emotional health of a person powerfully affect their decision-making and choices. In developing countries, the fundamental obstacles to poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment are gender norms, low executive functions, and poor mental and emotional health. In this talk, I will describe a women’s anti-poverty program in India and present evidence on its causal effects on gender norms, women’ executive function, and mental and emotional health. I will also discuss the implications of these results for anti-poverty programs and women’s empowerment policies.

We welcome faculty, students, and staff of the Philosophy and Moral Science Departments as well as members of the wider University community. RSVP to Lucy Schwarz at (link sends e-mail).