Karra’s Research Featured in Ideas for India

Mahesh Karra, Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, had his forthcoming research featured in Ideas for India (I4I), an economics and policy website that publishes evidence-based analysis and commentary on issues pertaining to growth and development in India.

The piece – “How mothers-in-law influence women’s social networks and reproductive health” – was co-authored by Karra, Catalina Herrera Almanza, Assistant Professor of economics and international affairs at Northeastern University, and S Anukriti, an Economist at the Development Research Group of the World Bank.

The article describes Almanza, Anukriri, and Karra’s new research, which explores the social networks of 18-30 year-old women in Uttar Pradesh, India and analyzes how the inter-generational power dynamics within martial households affect their ability to access and form social networks. As it turns out, the group’s data shows that women had very few meaningful social connections aside from their husbands and mothers-in-law. This isolation in turn limits women’s access to family planning resources and reproductive health services. The article concludes by outlining recommendations that could increase Indian women’s’ access to health resources, such as addressing the “gatekeeper” role of the mother-in-law in a marital household.

An excerpt:

Restrictive social norms and strategic constraints imposed by family members can limit women’s access to and benefit from social networks. Based on a survey in rural Uttar Pradesh, this article shows that a young, married woman who lives with her mother-in-law has 36% fewer close peers outside the home – in comparison to a similar woman who does not co-reside with the mother-in-law – which in turn reduces her access to, and utilisation of reproductive health services.

The full article can be read here.

Mahesh Karra’s academic and research interests are broadly in development economics, health economics, quantitative methods, and applied demography. His research utilizes experimental and non-experimental methods to investigate the relationships between population, health, and economic development in low- and middle-income countries. Read more about him here.