Cultural Context, Dimensions of Gender, and Women’s Self-Rated Health in India

Samuel Stroope, Louisiana State University

I use Sewell’s (1992) model of culture to develop and test hypotheses concerning how dimensions of gender in communities in India relate to women’s self-rated health. Particular attention is given to the importance of marriage and gender segregation dimensions of gender for women’s health. National data on 23,474 ever-married women aged 25-49 are analyzed from the India Human Development Survey-2004-05. Results show that marriage and gender segregation dimensions are associated with poor health. The most variance in self-rated health is explained by male-first eating order in households, a measure of gender segregation. This finding suggests that cultural practices deeply embedded in intimate relationships within families and day-to-day life are the ones which most accurately reveal the degree to which culture is ingrained in community contexts. It also implies that such deep cultural practices of gender segregation are more important than other forms of gender segregation for women’s health.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Health of Women, Children, and Families