The champions of financial inclusion regret women's lack of access to credit, while critics offinancialization, by contrast, claim that women havebecome overly indebted. But little is actuallyknown about women's debt/credit in quantitative terms, mostly due to a lack of data. This descriptivepaper uses first-hand survey data from southern India disaggregated by sex inorder to analyze the gender of debt and its interplaywith caste and poverty, based on descriptive statisticsand econometric results. We show thatwomenareheavily indebted, first andforemost to informal sources, alongside microcredit. While men aremuchhigher earners, they borrow much lessin relative terms. Furthermore, women prominently - and markedly more so thanmen - borrow in order to make endsmeet; productive investment largely remains a male practice. Lastly, women ofthe poorest and lowest-caste households have the heaviest borrowing responsibilities, managing the highest proportions of household debt. On a theoretical level, these results highlight the gendered earmarking of debt and credit: male and female debts/credits do not have the same meanings and uses. They also confirm the gendered dimension of behavior, in as much as women's behavior is constrained by family affiliation, poverty level and caste, all of which affects men much less. Last, in terms of policy implications, these results put into question the specific targeting of women by microcredit policies, likely to strengthen the association between debt and poverty for women, and in particular to exacerbate female responsibilities for managing scarcity.
Das Dokument ist öffentlich zugänglich im Rahmen des deutschen Urheberrechts.