A Quantitative Approach for Examining Female Status and Development Interrelationships: With Application to Pre-Beijing Data from the Philippines
AbstractThis paper addresses an important policy question, which has been taken for granted in most research: Does development enhance or worsen the status of women? The applicability of the Threshold Hypothesis, which posits a non-linear relationship between development and women's status, was tested using province-level data from a developing country, the Philippines. A contextual measure of female status relative to men, which is measured as gender inequality in education, health, work status, occupation, and industry for each province across time, accounts for the multidimensionality, heterogeneity and time- and context-variablity inherent in the femaile status concept. Development measures spanning the 1960s to the 1980s include year and development level. Composite development level indices, which were comparable across decades, were constructed using factor analysis. A change in development level over two decades was also measured. Pooled multiple-regression and correlation analyses, and regression standardization were employed. Results revealed that women were better off than men in health status but women fell behind men on the other four domains. The Threshold Hypothesis was applicable for education and health. Although thresholds still apply, the reverse pattern was found for work status, occupation, and industry. In addition, the unexpected second threshold found at the extreme right of the development scale for education and health further challenges the Modernization view on the positive linkage between status of women and development. Although findings in the study justify policy calls for continued development improvements for more gender-equitable environments, it is proposed that policies and efforts directed toward improving the status of women be guided by more detailed information on the critical linkages between various dimensions of development and women's status.