Prior Studies on Female Headship and Its Impact on Child Welfare
One of the opportunities through which economies can achieve long-run economic growth is through investment in human capital. Human capital, as easy as we can define it, corresponds to any stock of knowledge or characteristics a person has (either innate or acquired) that contributes to his or her ‘productivity’. As Doyle (2011) noted, governments and non-government organizations (NGOs) alike are well-aware of this, and many attempt to subsidize human capital investment by supplying welfare (health and education) services at little or no cost to individuals. However, Doyle added, “the level of human capital investment remains dependent on an individual’s demand for these services. Consequently, understanding the link between household characteristics and propensity to invest in children’s human capital can help improve targeting of government policy and increase the efficiency of international aid”.
In 1993, Louat, Grosh and van der Gaag’s study about female headship implications on child welfare in Jamaica showed results that children in female-headed households have, by large, equal access to social services and equally good welfare outcomes as children in male-headed households.
In addition, they found evidence of small differences in resource use between the two types of households (male vs. female headed). Their analyses of household expenditures showed that female-headed households spend no more on food than do male headed households. However when more detailed food expenditures are looked at, the differences are more pronounced. For instance, female headships appear to be associated with spending on higher quality food items such as meat, vegetables, milk and other dairy products. While the presence of a female decision maker generally increases the share of the household budget allocated to child and family goods, female headed households (FHHs) also spend more on adult wear and less on health. Lower health expenditures are partially offset by the differential use of other health inputs in FHHs. These differences in resource allocation may explain why poorer FHHs do not necessarily have lower children's outcomes in developing countries.
Furthermore, the labor force participation data of Jamaica, as investigated by Louat, Grosh and van der Gaag in 1993 indicated that female heads are more likely to work in the marketplace than women with similar characteristics who are the spouses of male heads of households. Evidence from Jamaica also showed that the sex and union status of the household head can have a significant influence on household expenditure behavior with implications for individual household members.
In a study done in Latin America (Arias & Palloni, 1996) examining the impact of female headship on children's education, while forty percent of the observations reported a positive effect-- that children's education is more likely to receive priority in...