Inheritance Rights

Inheritance rights for women, both wives and daughters, can be customary or statutory.  The intervention regarding inheritance rights will be either changing the law to be more inclusive or equitable or ensuring women can enforce their existing rights.

Page Contents

  1. Research – Quantitative and qualitative studies organized by country and outcome
  2. Legal Issues – Common legal issues and example laws, regulations, and policies
  3. Projects – Interventions and their outcomes

Research Organized by Country

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2017 World Bank Policy Working Paper by Sulagna Mokerjee “Gender-neutral inheritance laws, family structure, and women’s status in India”.1

    The data is from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2005-06, which is a large survey of representative households from all states of India (28 at the time). The survey includes a Household Schedule that provides a list of members in each household and basic socioeconomic information such as religion, caste, wealth status, and durable goods ownership. In addition, a Women’s Schedule provides the information needed to identify the treatment status—state of residence, year of marriage, and religion—for all women between the ages of 15 and 49 in each household. It also provides information on sociodemographic variables such as years of education, work status, husband’s education and occupation, and on variables denoting status within the household such as participation in own healthcare and household decision-making, and requiring permission to go somewhere or maintain contact with friends and family. The primary sample was 93,274 married women.

  2. Questions posed
    • Do formal legal inheritance rights for daughters result in increased status and bargaining power? This could take the form of increased labor force participation, increased decision-making power in the family, decreased domestic violence, decreased female child mortality, or decreased marital conflict.
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights of ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The study looked at the effect of the HSA Amendment (HSAA) on the extended family in the household and not only the bargaining power between one husband and one wife.

  5. Key findings

    The positive effect of the reform on women’s autonomy is achieved, to a considerable extent, through a shift in family structure from traditional joint setups to smaller nuclear households. The reform increased the likelihood of women making decisions jointly with their husbands but it might even have depressed their probability of solo decision-making. The reform of the HSA also increased the bargaining power of the husbands of the treated women; in fact, the husbands benefitted more than their wives at the expense of other household members. A significant decline in the bargaining power of these other family members hints at a possible effect of the reform on family structure itself.

NOTES
  1. Mokerjee, S. (2017). Gender-neutral inheritance laws, family structure, and women's status in India. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8017.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article by Daniel Rosenblum, “Unintended Consequences of Women’s Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India.”1

    This study uses the Indian National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) from 1992 to 1993, 1998 to 1999, and 2005 to 2006. The NFHS are large data sets with demographic and health information at the household level. Each NFHS round surveys a large group of married women age 15–49, and the surveys are representative at the state level. The 1992–93 round surveyed 89,777 ever-married women, the 1998–99 round surveyed 89,199 ever-married women, and the 2005–6 round surveyed 124,385 women age 15–49 (including never-married women). The 303,361 women in the combined NFHS are asked for their full birth histories, including when children were born and, if a child died, the age at death. The combined NFHS surveys contain information on 373,521 female children of which 45,904 died by the time of the survey. The NFHS data sets are combined in order to have sufficient power to detect changes in mortality and fertility rates as well as have a large enough range of children’s years of birth to cover the periods before and after the reforms.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact on daughters of reforms to the inheritance legislation that provides daughters and sons with equal inheritance rights?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    In India, there is a strong preference for sons. Patrilineal/patrilocal patterns are common. Commonly, daughters’ share of family wealth is provided in dowry (given to her husband and his family) and sons inherit land. This study argues that one unintended consequence of the amendment to the HSA is that daughters become more expensive if they also receive a share of inheritance, which may lead to higher child mortality for girls.

  5. Key findings

    The estimates show that there was a small but meaningful increase in female mortality caused by the inheritance rights reforms.

NOTES
  1. Rosenblum, D. (2015). Unintended Consequences of Women's Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 63(2), 223-248.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2016 article by Rahul Sapkal, “From Mother to Daughter: Does Equal Inheritance Property Laws Reform Improve Female Labor Supply and Educational Attainments in India?”1

    This study uses data from two rounds of the National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted in 1999–2000 (55th round) and 2004–2005 (64th round). The NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) surveys, which are representative at the state-district level and have an overall response rate of 94 percent, contain detailed information on household characteristic, individual information, activity status, debt information, etc. This cross-sectional survey is the official source of nationally representative employment and earning data used by the Government of India. From these surveys, the study focuses on the following variables: gender, education, age, family members, female labor force participation (principle status), wage income, non-wage income, household land holding, social category, religious category, and marital status.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did the HSA reform have effects on female labor supply and educational attainments?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    Staggered changes in the HSA as well as a pluralistic legal system (Hindu, Muslim and Civil personal law) enabled the comparison study.

  5. Key findings

    The equal inheritance property law reform had significant effect on the decision to invest in women’s education. This positive effect is also observed in their daughter’s educational attainment. The results are much stronger for younger cohorts as compared to older cohorts who are less likely to be affected by the reforms. The improvement in the inheritance law also increased women’s labor force participation through enhancing their autonomy in the household decision making process.

NOTES
  1. Sapkal, R. (2016). From Mother to Daughter: Does Equal Inheritance Property Laws Reform Improve Female Labor Supply and Educational Attainments in India?. Asian Journal of Law and Economics, 8(1)

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2013 article by Klaus Deininger, Aparajita Goyal, and Hari Nagarajan, “Women’s inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India.”1

    The study used data from nationally representative Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS) in 1999 and 2006 to compare inheritance practices of families in states that passed equal inheritance laws to households in states that had not passed equal inheritance laws, and to compare families that were affected by the change (had an unmarried daughter at the time of the amendment) to families that were not affected by the change (families with daughters already married, Muslim families). The National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06 provided additional household information for analysis.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact of reforms to the inheritance legislation on daughters?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The research was able to look at inheritance patterns over three generations of individuals to assess whether the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act had any impact on the inheritance bias for sons.

  5. Key findings

    The reforms increased women’s likelihood of inheriting land, although they did not close the bias gap. Females whose father died after the amendments in 4 states are 15 percentage points more likely to inherit land than those whose father died before the reform. Additionally, there was a significant increase in girls’ educational attainment after the HSAA.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • What was the role of information campaigns to close the inheritance gap?
    • Was there an increase in will creation that may have avoided application of the HSA?
    • Was there an increase in inter vivos gifts to sons to avoid HSA?
NOTES
  1. Deininger, K., Goyal, A., & Nagarajan, H. (2013). Women's inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India. The Journal of Human Resources, 48(1): 114-141.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article by Sanchari Roy, “Empowering women? Inheritance rights, female education and dowry payments in India.”1

    This study looks at whether the changes in the Hindu Succession Act 1956 (HSA) that gave daughters and sons equal rights to ancestral land, increased the number of daughters inheriting land or increased resources that went to daughter’s education and/or dowry. The earliest attempts at amending the HSA were made by five Indian states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The study uses the 1999 wave of the Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS), which is a representative survey of rural households in the 17 major states of India. The REDS 99 contains detailed retrospective information on individual characteristics of all members of the household, including daughters who have married and left the household, provided by the household head. The sample is comprised of daughters who were at least 22 years old at survey and whose mothers were at least 44 years old at survey in landed, Hindu households (4207 women). The study identifies the causal impact of the inheritance reform by using a triple differences methodology that exploits variation in women’s state of birth, year of birth and timing of grandfather’s death.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact of gender-progressive reforms to the inheritance law in India on women's outcomes?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The study postulates that the changes in the inheritance law may have improved daughters’ situation by providing daughters with an alternative asset to land, namely more education or paying a higher dowry. However, dowry payments are not under the control of the daughter but rather of her husband and his parents, thus does not provide daughters with their own asset.

  5. Key findings

    In contrast to the earlier study (Deininger, et al, 2013) Roy found that the reform failed to increase the actual likelihood of women inheriting property. Instead, parents appeared to be gifting their share of land to their sons in order to circumvent the law. However, parents also appeared to be compensating their daughters for such disinheritance by giving them alternative transfers in the form of either higher dowries or more education following the reform.

NOTES
  1. Roy, S. (2015). Empowering women? Inheritance rights, female education and dowry payments in India. Journal of Development Economics 114: 233-51.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses Sanchari Roy’s 2008 article “Female Empowerment Through Inheritance Rights: Evidence from India.”1

    The data is from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2005-06, which is a large survey of representative households from all 29 states of India. The survey includes a household schedule that provides a list of members in each household and basic socioeconomic information such as religion, caste, wealth status, and durable goods ownership. In addition, a Women’s Schedule provides the information needed to pin down the treatment status—state of residence, year of marriage, and religion—for all women between the ages of 15 and 49 in each household. It also provides information on sociodemographic variables such as years of education, work status, husband’s education and occupation, and on variables denoting status within the household such as participation in own healthcare and household decision-making, and requiring permission to go somewhere or maintain contact with friends and family. The sample, which is representative at the state level, consists of over 28,000 married women between the age of 15-49 in 29 states of India, with year of marriage varying from 1964 – 2004.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did granting daughters and sons equal rights to inherit from their natal family improve women's autonomy in their marital family?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights of ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughter’s equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    Five states amended the HSA to allow daughters and sons equal inheritance rights providing for a natural experiment as to whether such amendment made a difference in the lives of Hindu daughters.

  5. Key findings

    Granting inheritance rights to women that was at par with their brothers increased the degree of autonomy they enjoyed in their marital families. The effect was strong for women whose husbands’ occupation was complementary to the form of property inherited.

NOTES
  1. Roy, S. (2008), Female Empowerment Through Inheritance Rights: Evidence from India, Department of Economics, London School of Economics, September r6, 2008.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2014 article by Daniel  Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, and Markus Goldstein, “Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda.”1

    The study evaluated the short-term impact of a pilot land regularization program in Rwanda using a geographic discontinuity design with spatial fixed effects.

    Information was collected both at household and parcel levels. Household level information includes demographics, housing, assets, participation in the credit market, participation in the registration program and knowledge of the law and the GPS coordinates of the main residential plot. Parcel level questions included land characteristics, investment, and inheritance dynamics as well as participation in land sales and rental markets.

    The study compares the extent to which female land ownership is formalized and girls are named as inheritors of land between treatment and control cells, and measures intent of inheritance, not impact, as not enough time has passed to measure actual inheritance.

  2. Description of intervention

    Pilot land regularization program.

  3. Context of findings

    The 1999 inheritance law, key provisions of which were incorporated into the 2003 Constitution, aimed to eliminate gender bias by granting daughters and sons equal rights to inherit parental property. The study was done 2.5 yrs. after completion of rights certification in the pilot regions.  Looked at FHH and MHH with some focus on women within MHH.

  4. Key findings

    Land tenure regularization required an explicit record of who would inherit a parcel, and this requirement significantly reduced succession-related insecurity. Children are 13 points more likely to inherit land. Gender bias was virtually eliminated and girls’ planned level of land inheritance was almost equal to boys’ in male-headed households. In contrast, female-headed households were less likely to name daughters as inheritors.

NOTES
  1. Ali, D. A., Deininger, K. and Goldstein, M., 2014. Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda, Land and Property Rights, Vol 110, pp. 262-275.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2017 article by Brian Dillon and Alessandra Voena “Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.”1

    The primary household data for this paper came from the 2008 Rural Income and Livelihoods Survey undertaken by the Food Security Research Project of Michigan State University (MSU) and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Zambia. The data set includes a wide variety of standard agricultural, economic, and demographic information at the plot, household, and community levels. In 2008, the MSU and CSO teams conducted a separate survey with 1,043 village chiefs (“headmen”) in the study area. The headmen survey covered a range of village characteristics, including norms regarding inheritance, distances to trading centers, business activities, access to government extension and input subsidization programs, trends in community well-being, and others.

    The household data contains information for 8,094 households. After dropping households with no agricultural activities or those missing key variables, the data set was 7,770 households. The study looked at investment on plots governed by the customary system. For most specifications the study focused on the 5,803 households that are led by a married couple, because, according to the conceptual framework, the widow inheritance policy can only be expected to influence these households.

  2. Questions posed
    • Does the threat of land expropriation upon widowhood deter households from fallowing, applying fertilizer, and employing labor intensive tillage techniques?
  3. Description of intervention

    No specific intervention. Study was done based on the various customs related to inheritance.

  4. Context of findings

    Governed by customary law, in some villages the death of a male household head leads to a one-third reduction in the land area cultivated by the widow’s household, and approximately 15% of households are headed by widows.

  5. Key findings

    Across a variety of specifications there was strong evidence of lower land investment in areas where widows do not inherit. Couples in non-widow-inheritance villages apply 13–18% less fertilizer, fallow 4–5% less land area, and use intensive tillage techniques on 3–5% fewer acres, relative to the averages among households with positive levels of each activity. (Those figures are 37–50% for fertilizer, 12–16% for fallowing, and 7–11% for intensive tillage if the baseline is against all households, including the zeroes).

    Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member.

    Women’s concern over a possible loss of land reduces their investments in land quality even when their husbands are alive.

NOTES
  1. Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017) Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment (January 18, 2017).

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2016 article by Mariaflavia Harari, “Women’s inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya.”1

    This study uses data from the Kenyan Demographic and Health Surveys that focus on health and demography with specific focus on female household members. Surveys were conducted in 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008-9. The study compares data on women (daughters and wives) pre-1981, between 1981 and 1990, and post-1990. Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law. Some of the questions in the survey asked adult women historical questions (were you circumcised), and then current questions (is your daughter circumcised) thus being able to compare pre-1981 with post-1981 outcomes.

  2. Questions posed
    • What are the human capital effects of a legal reform that gave women in Kenya equal inheritance rights with men?
  3. Description of intervention

    Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. Under the 1981 law, widows are entitled to an absolute interest in the personal and household effects of the deceased and a life interest in the rest of the estate. For polygamous marriages, the estate is divided among the households based on the number of children in the household. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law for women and men.

  4. Context of findings

    Islamic Inheritance Law is complicated and who gets how much depends on the configuration of the family. However, the basic notion that women receive half of what men, who have the same degree of relation to the decedent, is fairly constant. Whether the decedent is a child or a parent whether the child has children and the parents have brothers and sisters all change the specific amount of inheritance that goes to the extended family. Only one-third of property can be disposed of by will.

    Kenyan customary law typically prohibits women from inheriting from their husbands or fathers. Widows have use rights to land unless they remarry. Some traditional communities practice levirate marriage, where widows marry their deceased husband’s brother or relative.

  5. Key findings

    There was a sizeable improvement in girls’ education (both absolute and relative to boys’ education) when education decisions were made post reform, to the detriment of boys (1981). This effect was attenuated if there were a large number of siblings.

    There was a significant decrease in the probability of being circumcised for girls who were children or teenagers after the reform, mostly in ethnic groups where FGM is not universal to start with. The presumption is that their mothers had greater bargaining power within the family post-reform.

    The study also found that women who came of marriageable age after the reforms tended to delay marriage and childbearing, indicating increased bargaining power within her family.

    Legal recognition of women’s inheritance rights can have an impact on women’s empowerment even in a context of poor enforcement and in spite of the persistence of deep-rooted social norms.

NOTES
  1. Harari, M., (2016). Women's inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses Amber Peterman’s 2011 article, “Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania.”1

    This study evaluates the effects of community-level women’s property and inheritance rights on women’s economic outcomes using a 13-year longitudinal panel from rural Tanzania. In the preferred model specification, inverse probability weighting is applied to a woman-level fixed effects model to control for individual-level time invariant heterogeneity and attrition. The study uses data from Kagera Health and Development Survey (KHDS) a longitudinal panel from rural northern Tanzania collected over 13 years from 1991-2004.

  2. Questions posed
    • Does granting women property and inheritance rights improve economic outcomes for women?
  3. Description of intervention

    In 1999, a legal change shifted land administration to the village level, where the community is responsible for registration, adjudication, titling, and land disputes. This change followed a post-independence period of confusion over ambiguous and conflicting laws around land ownership. After this legal change, changes occurred in community-level variation of customs over time.

  4. Context of findings

    The land reforms stipulated that women are to be represented in land administration bodies and the law protects women’s rights to co-ownership of land as well as the individual right to acquire, hold, sell, and use land. These concessions were the result of advocacy and public debate lead by the Gender Land Task Force (GLTF).

    In Kagera, land is traditionally governed by the clan, namely the Haya and Nyambo tribes in the north and the Subi, Sukuma, Zinza, and Hagaza in the south. The Haya make up the majority of the sample and are patralinal and historically banana and coffee farmers. Upon marriage, bride price is paid from the bride’s family to the groom’s family, and women are expected to leave their family and reside in the village of their husband’s household. According to the Core Welfare Indicator questionnaire in rural Kagera, three-quarters of household heads classify as agricultural.

  5. Key findings

    Findings suggest that women’s property and inheritance rights are significant in promoting individual economic advancement for all women, especially in the realms of employment and earnings. These findings are based on changes in community-level variations of customs over time after a change in constitutional arrangements in land administration, and are not a result of strictly exogenous policy change.

    Women who live in communities with high levels of women’s property and inheritance rights (WPIR) are more likely to engage in non-agricultural, self-employed work and have higher savings and higher individual and household expenditures.

NOTES
  1. Peterman, A. (2011) Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania, The Journal of Development Studies, 47:1, 1-30.

Research Organized by Outcome

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article by Daniel Rosenblum, “Unintended Consequences of Women’s Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India.”1

    This study uses the Indian National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) from 1992 to 1993, 1998 to 1999, and 2005 to 2006. The NFHS are large data sets with demographic and health information at the household level. Each NFHS round surveys a large group of married women age 15–49, and the surveys are representative at the state level. The 1992–93 round surveyed 89,777 ever-married women, the 1998–99 round surveyed 89,199 ever-married women, and the 2005–6 round surveyed 124,385 women age 15–49 (including never-married women). The 303,361 women in the combined NFHS are asked for their full birth histories, including when children were born and, if a child died, the age at death. The combined NFHS surveys contain information on 373,521 female children of which 45,904 died by the time of the survey. The NFHS data sets are combined in order to have sufficient power to detect changes in mortality and fertility rates as well as have a large enough range of children’s years of birth to cover the periods before and after the reforms.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact on daughters of reforms to the inheritance legislation that provides daughters and sons with equal inheritance rights?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    In India, there is a strong preference for sons. Patrilineal/patrilocal patterns are common. Commonly, daughters’ share of family wealth is provided in dowry (given to her husband and his family) and sons inherit land. This study argues that one unintended consequence of the amendment to the HSA is that daughters become more expensive if they also receive a share of inheritance, which may lead to higher child mortality for girls.

  5. Key findings

    The estimates show that there was a small but meaningful increase in female mortality caused by the inheritance rights reforms.

NOTES
  1. Rosenblum, D. (2015). Unintended Consequences of Women's Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 63(2), 223-248.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses Amber Peterman’s 2011 article, “Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania.”1

    This study evaluates the effects of community-level women’s property and inheritance rights on women’s economic outcomes using a 13-year longitudinal panel from rural Tanzania. In the preferred model specification, inverse probability weighting is applied to a woman-level fixed effects model to control for individual-level time invariant heterogeneity and attrition. The study uses data from Kagera Health and Development Survey (KHDS) a longitudinal panel from rural northern Tanzania collected over 13 years from 1991-2004.

  2. Questions posed
    • Does granting women property and inheritance rights improve economic outcomes for women?
  3. Description of intervention

    In 1999, a legal change shifted land administration to the village level, where the community is responsible for registration, adjudication, titling, and land disputes. This change followed a post-independence period of confusion over ambiguous and conflicting laws around land ownership. After this legal change, changes occurred in community-level variation of customs over time.

  4. Context of findings

    The land reforms stipulated that women are to be represented in land administration bodies and the law protects women’s rights to co-ownership of land as well as the individual right to acquire, hold, sell, and use land. These concessions were the result of advocacy and public debate lead by the Gender Land Task Force (GLTF).

    In Kagera, land is traditionally governed by the clan, namely the Haya and Nyambo tribes in the north and the Subi, Sukuma, Zinza, and Hagaza in the south. The Haya make up the majority of the sample and are patralinal and historically banana and coffee farmers. Upon marriage, bride price is paid from the bride’s family to the groom’s family, and women are expected to leave their family and reside in the village of their husband’s household. According to the Core Welfare Indicator questionnaire in rural Kagera, three-quarters of household heads classify as agricultural.

  5. Key findings

    Findings suggest that women’s property and inheritance rights are significant in promoting individual economic advancement for all women, especially in the realms of employment and earnings. These findings are based on changes in community-level variations of customs over time after a change in constitutional arrangements in land administration, and are not a result of strictly exogenous policy change.

    Women who live in communities with high levels of women’s property and inheritance rights (WPIR) are more likely to engage in non-agricultural, self-employed work and have higher savings and higher individual and household expenditures.

NOTES
  1. Peterman, A. (2011) Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania, The Journal of Development Studies, 47:1, 1-30.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2017 article by Brian Dillon and Alessandra Voena “Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.”1

    The primary household data for this paper came from the 2008 Rural Income and Livelihoods Survey undertaken by the Food Security Research Project of Michigan State University (MSU) and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Zambia. The data set includes a wide variety of standard agricultural, economic, and demographic information at the plot, household, and community levels. In 2008, the MSU and CSO teams conducted a separate survey with 1,043 village chiefs (“headmen”) in the study area. The headmen survey covered a range of village characteristics, including norms regarding inheritance, distances to trading centers, business activities, access to government extension and input subsidization programs, trends in community well-being, and others.

    The household data contains information for 8,094 households. After dropping households with no agricultural activities or those missing key variables, the data set was 7,770 households. The study looked at investment on plots governed by the customary system. For most specifications the study focused on the 5,803 households that are led by a married couple, because, according to the conceptual framework, the widow inheritance policy can only be expected to influence these households.

  2. Questions posed
    • Does the threat of land expropriation upon widowhood deter households from fallowing, applying fertilizer, and employing labor intensive tillage techniques?
  3. Description of intervention

    No specific intervention. Study was done based on the various customs related to inheritance.

  4. Context of findings

    Governed by customary law, in some villages the death of a male household head leads to a one-third reduction in the land area cultivated by the widow’s household, and approximately 15% of households are headed by widows.

  5. Key findings

    Across a variety of specifications there was strong evidence of lower land investment in areas where widows do not inherit. Couples in non-widow-inheritance villages apply 13–18% less fertilizer, fallow 4–5% less land area, and use intensive tillage techniques on 3–5% fewer acres, relative to the averages among households with positive levels of each activity. (Those figures are 37–50% for fertilizer, 12–16% for fallowing, and 7–11% for intensive tillage if the baseline is against all households, including the zeroes).

    Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member.

    Women’s concern over a possible loss of land reduces their investments in land quality even when their husbands are alive.

NOTES
  1. Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017) Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment (January 18, 2017).

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2014 article by Daniel  Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger and Markus Goldstein, “Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda.”1

    The study evaluated the short-term impact of a pilot land regularization program in Rwanda using a geographic discontinuity design with spatial fixed effects.

    Information was collected both at household and parcel levels. Household level information includes demographics, housing, assets, participation in the credit market, participation in the registration program and knowledge of the law and the GPS coordinates of the main residential plot. Parcel level questions included land characteristics, investment, and inheritance dynamics as well as participation in land sales and rental markets.

    The study compares the extent to which female land ownership is formalized and girls are named as inheritors of land between treatment and control cells, and measures intent of inheritance, not impact, as not enough time has passed to measure actual inheritance.

  2. Description of intervention

    Pilot land regularization program.

  3. Context of findings

    The 1999 inheritance law, key provisions of which were incorporated into the 2003 Constitution, aimed to eliminate gender bias by granting daughters and sons equal rights to inherit parental property. The study was done 2.5 yrs. after completion of rights certification in the pilot regions.  Looked at FHH and MHH with some focus on women within MHH.

  4. Key findings

    Land tenure regularization required an explicit record of who would inherit a parcel, and this requirement significantly reduced succession-related insecurity. Children are 13 points more likely to inherit land. Gender bias was virtually eliminated and girls’ planned level of land inheritance was almost equal to boys’ in male-headed households. In contrast, female-headed households were less likely to name daughters as inheritors.

NOTES
  1. Ali, D. A., Deininger, K. and Goldstein, M., 2014. Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda, Land and Property Rights, Vol 110, pp. 262-275.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2013 article by Klaus Deininger, Aparajita Goyal, and Hari Nagarajan, “Women’s inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India.”1

    The study used data from nationally representative Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS) in 1999 and 2006 to compare inheritance practices of families in states that passed equal inheritance laws to households in states that had not passed equal inheritance laws, and to compare families that were affected by the change (had an unmarried daughter at the time of the amendment) to families that were not affected by the change (families with daughters already married, Muslim families). The National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06 provided additional household information for analysis.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact of reforms to the inheritance legislation on daughters?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The research was able to look at inheritance patterns over three generations of individuals to assess whether the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act had any impact on the inheritance bias for sons.

  5. Key findings

    The reforms increased women’s likelihood of inheriting land, although they did not close the bias gap. Females whose father died after the amendments in 4 states are 15 percentage points more likely to inherit land than those whose father died before the reform. Additionally, there was a significant increase in girls’ educational attainment after the HSAA.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • What was the role of information campaigns to close the inheritance gap?
    • Was there an increase in will creation that may have avoided application of the HSA?
    • Was there an increase in inter vivos gifts to sons to avoid HSA?
NOTES
  1. Deininger, K., Goyal, A., & Nagarajan, H. (2013). Women's inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India. The Journal of Human Resources, 48(1): 114-141.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses Sanchari Roy’s 2008 article “Female Empowerment Through Inheritance Rights: Evidence from India.”1

    The data is from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2005-06, which is a large survey of representative households from all 29 states of India. The survey includes a household schedule that provides a list of members in each household and basic socioeconomic information such as religion, caste, wealth status, and durable goods ownership. In addition, a Women’s Schedule provides the information needed to pin down the treatment status—state of residence, year of marriage, and religion—for all women between the ages of 15 and 49 in each household. It also provides information on sociodemographic variables such as years of education, work status, husband’s education and occupation, and on variables denoting status within the household such as participation in own healthcare and household decision-making, and requiring permission to go somewhere or maintain contact with friends and family. The sample, which is representative at the state level, consists of over 28,000 married women between the age of 15-49 in 29 states of India, with year of marriage varying from 1964 – 2004.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did granting daughters and sons equal rights to inherit from their natal family improve women's autonomy in their marital family?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights of ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughter’s equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    Five states amended the HSA to allow daughters and sons equal inheritance rights providing for a natural experiment as to whether such amendment made a difference in the lives of Hindu daughters.

  5. Key findings

    Granting inheritance rights to women that was at par with their brothers increased the degree of autonomy they enjoyed in their marital families. The effect was strong for women whose husbands’ occupation was complementary to the form of property inherited.

NOTES
  1. Roy, S. (2008), Female Empowerment Through Inheritance Rights: Evidence from India, Department of Economics, London School of Economics, September r6, 2008.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2016 article by Mariaflavia Harari, “Women’s inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya.”1

    This study uses data from the Kenyan Demographic and Health Surveys that focus on health and demography with specific focus on female household members. Surveys were conducted in 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008-9. The study compares data on women (daughters and wives) pre-1981, between 1981 and 1990, and post-1990. Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law. Some of the questions in the survey asked adult women historical questions (were you circumcised), and then current questions (is your daughter circumcised) thus being able to compare pre-1981 with post-1981 outcomes.

  2. Questions posed
    • What are the human capital effects of a legal reform that gave women in Kenya equal inheritance rights with men?
  3. Description of intervention

    Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. Under the 1981 law, widows are entitled to an absolute interest in the personal and household effects of the deceased and a life interest in the rest of the estate. For polygamous marriages, the estate is divided among the households based on the number of children in the household. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law for women and men.

  4. Context of findings

    Islamic Inheritance Law is complicated and who gets how much depends on the configuration of the family. However, the basic notion that women receive half of what men, who have the same degree of relation to the decedent, is fairly constant. Whether the decedent is a child or a parent whether the child has children and the parents have brothers and sisters all change the specific amount of inheritance that goes to the extended family. Only one-third of property can be disposed of by will.

    Kenyan customary law typically prohibits women from inheriting from their husbands or fathers. Widows have use rights to land unless they remarry. Some traditional communities practice levirate marriage, where widows marry their deceased husband’s brother or relative.

  5. Key findings

    There was a sizeable improvement in girls’ education (both absolute and relative to boys’ education) when education decisions were made post reform (1981), to the detriment of boys. This effect was attenuated if there were a large number of siblings.

    There was a significant decrease in the probability of being circumcised for girls who were children or teenagers after the reform, mostly in ethnic groups where FGM is not universal to start with. The presumption is that their mothers had greater bargaining power within the family post-reform.

    The study also found that women who came of marriageable age after the reforms tended to delay marriage and childbearing, indicating increased bargaining power within her family.

    Legal recognition of women’s inheritance rights can have an impact on women’s empowerment even in a context of poor enforcement and in spite of the persistence of deep-rooted social norms.

NOTES
  1. Harari, M., (2016). Women's inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2013 article by Klaus Deininger, Aparajita Goyal, and Hari Nagarajan, “Women’s inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India.”1

    The study used data from nationally representative Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS) in 1999 and 2006 to compare inheritance practices of families in states that passed equal inheritance laws to households in states that had not passed equal inheritance laws, and to compare families that were affected by the change (had an unmarried daughter at the time of the amendment) to families that were not affected by the change (families with daughters already married, Muslim families). The National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06 provided additional household information for analysis.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact of reforms to the inheritance legislation on daughters?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The research was able to look at inheritance patterns over three generations of individuals to assess whether the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act had any impact on the inheritance bias for sons.

  5. Key findings

    The reforms increased women’s likelihood of inheriting land, although they did not close the bias gap. Females whose father died after the amendments in 4 states are 15 percentage points more likely to inherit land than those whose father died before the reform. Additionally, there was a significant increase in girls’ educational attainment after the HSAA.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • What was the role of information campaigns to close the inheritance gap?
    • Was there an increase in will creation that may have avoided application of the HSA?
    • Was there an increase in inter vivos gifts to sons to avoid HSA?
NOTES
  1. Deininger, K., Goyal, A., & Nagarajan, H. (2013). Women's inheritance rights and the intergenerational transmission of resources in India. The Journal of Human Resources, 48(1): 114-141.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article by Sanchari Roy, “Empowering women? Inheritance rights, female education and dowry payments in India.”1

    This study looks at whether the changes in the Hindu Succession Act 1956 (HSA) that gave daughters and sons equal rights to ancestral land increased the number of daughters inheriting land or increased resources that went to daughter’s education and/or dowry. The earliest attempts at amending the HSA were made by five Indian states, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The study uses the 1999 wave of the Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS), which is a representative survey of rural households in the 17 major states of India. The REDS 99 contains detailed retrospective information on individual characteristics of all members of the household, including daughters who have married and left the household, provided by the household head. The sample is comprised of daughters who were at least 22 years old at survey and whose mothers were at least 44 years old at survey in landed, Hindu households (4207 women). The study identifies the causal impact of the inheritance reform by using a triple differences methodology that exploits variation in women’s state of birth, year of birth, and timing of grandfather’s death.

  2. Questions posed
    • What is the impact of gender-progressive reforms to the inheritance law in India on women's outcomes?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The study postulates that the changes in the inheritance law may have improved daughters’ situation by providing daughters with an alternative asset to land, namely more education or paying a higher dowry. However, dowry payments are not under the control of the daughter but rather of her husband and his parents, thus does not provide daughters with their own asset.

  5. Key findings

    In contrast to the earlier study (Deininger, et al, 2013) Roy found that the reform failed to increase the actual likelihood of women inheriting property. Instead, parents appeared to be gifting their share of land to their sons in order to circumvent the law. However, parents also appeared to be compensating their daughters for such disinheritance by giving them alternative transfers in the form of either higher dowries or more education following the reform.

NOTES
  1. Roy, S. (2015). Empowering women? Inheritance rights, female education and dowry payments in India. Journal of Development Economics 114: 233-51.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2016 article by Rahul Sapkal, “From Mother to Daughter: Does Equal Inheritance Property Laws Reform Improve Female Labor Supply and Educational Attainments in India?”1

    This study uses data from two rounds of the National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted in 1999–2000 (55th round) and 2004–2005 (64th round). The NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) surveys, which are representative at the state-district level and have an overall response rate of 94 percent, contain detailed information on household characteristic, individual information, activity status, debt information, etc. This cross-sectional survey is the official source of nationally representative employment and earning data used by the Government of India. From these surveys, the study focuses on the following variables: gender, education, age, family members, female labor force participation (principle status), wage income, non-wage income, household land holding, social category, religious category, and marital status.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did the HSA reform have effects on female labor supply and educational attainments?
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights to ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    Staggered changes in the HSA as well as a pluralistic legal system (Hindu, Muslim and Civil personal law) enabled the comparison study.

  5. Key findings

    The equal inheritance property law reform had significant effect on the decision to invest in women’s education. This positive effect is also observed in their daughter’s educational attainment. The results are much stronger for younger cohorts as compared to older cohorts who are less likely to be affected by the reforms. The improvement in the inheritance law also increased women’s labor force participation through enhancing their autonomy in the household decision making process.

NOTES
  1. Sapkal, R. (2016). From Mother to Daughter: Does Equal Inheritance Property Laws Reform Improve Female Labor Supply and Educational Attainments in India?. Asian Journal of Law and Economics, 8(1)

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2016 article by Mariaflavia Harari, “Women’s inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya.”1

    This study uses data from the Kenyan Demographic and Health Surveys that focus on health and demography with specific focus on female household members. Surveys were conducted in 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008-9. The study compares data on women (daughters and wives) pre-1981, between 1981 and 1990, and post-1990. Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law. Some of the questions in the survey asked adult women historical questions (were you circumcised), and then current questions (is your daughter circumcised) thus being able to compare pre-1981 with post-1981 outcomes.

  2. Questions posed
    • What are the human capital effects of a legal reform that gave women in Kenya equal inheritance rights with men?
  3. Description of intervention

    Before the 1981 Law on Succession Act, inheritance in Kenya was determined by the customary law of the ethnic group of the deceased, and, in the case of Muslims, by Koranic law, which gives women half the inheritance share that goes to men who have the same degree of relation to the decedent. The customary law of virtually all ethnic groups in Kenya denied daughters any right of inheritance. The 1981 reform made inheritance a matter of statutory law, and formally established equal inheritance rights for daughters and sons, regardless of religious affiliation or marital status. Under the 1981 law, widows are entitled to an absolute interest in the personal and household effects of the deceased and a life interest in the rest of the estate. For polygamous marriages, the estate is divided among the households based on the number of children in the household. In 1990, an exception was created for Muslims, who reverted back to Koranic law for women and men.

  4. Context of findings

    Islamic Inheritance Law is complicated and who gets how much depends on the configuration of the family. However, the basic notion that women receive half of what men, who have the same degree of relation to the decedent, is fairly constant. Whether the decedent is a child or a parent whether the child has children and the parents have brothers and sisters all change the specific amount of inheritance that goes to the extended family. Only one-third of property can be disposed of by will.

    Kenyan customary law typically prohibits women from inheriting from their husbands or fathers. Widows have use rights to land unless they remarry. Some traditional communities practice levirate marriage, where widows marry their deceased husband’s brother or relative.

  5. Key findings

    There was a sizeable improvement in girls’ education (both absolute and relative to boys’ education) when education decisions were made post reform (1981), to the detriment of boys. This effect was attenuated if there were a large number of siblings.

    There was a significant decrease in the probability of being circumcised for girls who were children or teenagers after the reform, mostly in ethnic groups where FGM is not universal to start with. The presumption is that their mothers had greater bargaining power within the family post-reform.

    The study also found that women who came of marriageable age after the reforms tended to delay marriage and childbearing, indicating increased bargaining power within her family.

    Legal recognition of women’s inheritance rights can have an impact on women’s empowerment even in a context of poor enforcement and in spite of the persistence of deep-rooted social norms.

NOTES
  1. Harari, M., (2016). Women's inheritance rights and bargaining power: evidence from Kenya. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2017 World Bank Policy Working Paper by Sulagna Mokerjee “Gender-neutral inheritance laws, family structure, and women’s status in India”.1

    The data is from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2005-06, which is a large survey of representative households from all states of India (28 at the time). The survey includes a Household Schedule that provides a list of members in each household and basic socioeconomic information such as religion, caste, wealth status, and durable goods ownership. In addition, a Women’s Schedule provides the information needed to identify the treatment status—state of residence, year of marriage, and religion—for all women between the ages of 15 and 49 in each household. It also provides information on sociodemographic variables such as years of education, work status, husband’s education and occupation, and on variables denoting status within the household such as participation in own healthcare and household decision-making, and requiring permission to go somewhere or maintain contact with friends and family. The primary sample was 93,274 married women.

  2. Questions posed
    • Do formal legal inheritance rights for daughters result in increased status and bargaining power? This could take the form of increased labor force participation, increased decision-making power in the family, decreased domestic violence, decreased female child mortality, or decreased marital conflict.
  3. Description of intervention

    The intervention was a change in the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) to provide daughters and sons with equal rights to inherit ancestral property. The HSA of 1956 provided inheritance rights of ancestral property to sons only. Five states, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, and Karnataka, amended this law in 1976, 1986, 1989, and 1994 to include equal inheritance rights to ancestral land for daughters. The Succession Law was amended nationally in 2005 to grant daughters equal inheritance rights to ancestral land. The law only applies to intestate succession and only applies to Hindus.

  4. Context of findings

    The study looked at the effect of the HSA Amendment (HSAA) on the extended family in the household and not only the bargaining power between one husband and one wife.

  5. Key findings

    The positive effect of the reform on women’s autonomy is achieved, to a considerable extent, through a shift in family structure from traditional joint setups to smaller nuclear households. The reform increased the likelihood of women making decisions jointly with their husbands but it might even have depressed their probability of solo decision-making. The reform of the HSA also increased the bargaining power of the husbands of the treated women; in fact, the husbands benefitted more than their wives at the expense of other household members. A significant decline in the bargaining power of these other family members hints at a possible effect of the reform on family structure itself.

NOTES
  1. Mokerjee, S. (2017). Gender-neutral inheritance laws, family structure, and women's status in India. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 8017.

Projects

  1. Project Description

    Innovating Justice for Widows in Kenya is a project by the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN).1 HIV/ADIS has magnified problems in unequal property and inheritance regimes. Many widows are young, and are disinherited and left homeless by in-laws. Courts are expensive, time consuming and often culturally frowned upon for resolving family disputes.

  2. Methodology

    In Homabay and Kisumu Counties, KELIN has worked with community-based mediation systems so that they follow the laws and Constitution in relation to women’s land and property rights. KELIN held community dialogues with widows, elders, and government officials to get their buy-in for the project. They then conducted trainings for the elders and widows on the human rights provisions of Kenyan laws relating to property. Customary structures (Luo Council of Elders, Kabondo Elders, and Nyakach Elders) now mediate family disputes and help reinstate widows and children in their homes and family land.

  3. Outcomes

    As of March 2015, the project successfully resolved 224 out of 311 cases.

    Thirty-six cases are still being mediated.

    Thirty out of the 50 elders who are actively involved in the mediation process have been trained on land property rights to ensure that their decisions are in line with the Constitution.

    Thirty-three percent of the elders are women.

    Over 400 beneficiaries (widows, children, and elders) benefit directly from the project.

NOTES
  1. Ezer, T., "Innovating Justice for Widows in Kenya" (September 21, 2012).

  1. Project Description

    RCN Justice & Demecratie, a Belgian NGO, and the local Haguruka Association, which is supported by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equity, implemented an intervention that trained paralegals in 15 districts.1

  2. Methodology

    The paralegals are trained on family and land laws and the legal and policy framework on women’s rights. They work with trained lawyers and travel to remove village areas to host mobile legal clinics.

  3. Outcomes

    As of 2012, the project had trained 204 paralegals on family and land laws and the legal and policy framework on women’s rights.

    From 2010-2012, paralegals worked with trained lawyers, visited remote villages, and hosted legal clinics, assisting in 1,508 women’s legal cases.

NOTES
  1. Abbott, P. and Rwica, J., "End-of-Line Evaluation: Beyond Raising Awareness Shifting the Power Balance to Enable Women to Access Land in Rwanda," (2014).

  1. Project Description

    Landesa, a Seattle-based NGO with offices in Kolkata, West Bengal, designed and implemented a project called Security for Girls Through Land (“The Girls Project”).1 The project was launched in 2010 with the aim to improve girls’ social and economic status by increasing girls’ and the communities’ understanding of girls’ land-related rights, including inheritance rights, and to provide some training on land-based livelihoods. The project was designed with the recognition that issues of dowry, early marriage, girls’ status in the community, land ownership/inheritance, and trafficking are closely intertwined social issues rooted in entrenched community beliefs. Legal reforms such as the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 allowing for equal inheritance rights to ancestral property, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 prohibiting the giving or taking of dowry, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 have been marginally effective to completely ineffectual. The initial project grant period was 2010-2015, yet the project continues on with government support and additional donor funding.

  2. Methodology

    The Girls Project involved 1) formation of girls groups to learn about land and inheritance rights and land-based livelihoods, 2) formation of boys’ groups and 3) community conversations around land rights, inheritance, dowry, and marriage.

    Landesa partnered with the West Bengal Department of Women and Children to pilot a land rights curriculum through SABLA, a national government-funded program that forms groups of adolescent girls in rural villages and educates them on nutrition and health. Landesa added land rights and inheritance and land-based livelihoods modules to the existing curriculum.

    Adolescent boys received training through short and targeted school programs. Creating model boys’ groups similar to the girls’ groups was unsuccessful, as adolescent boys in rural areas spend time in income-generating activities. Schools also provided an institutional partner to potential scale this work.

    Landesa also worked with the local elected government, the Panchayat, as they are the first stop for families for inheritance and land dispute resolution. Many Panchayats had not received education about equal inheritance laws nor did they have a standard system for certifying family members, a requirement at the land office to change land records.

    Community meetings were held to raise discussion around issues of daughter’s dowry and inheritance. There remains a need for skilled facilitation and finding an institutional partner to scale the project.

  3. Outcomes

    By 2015, the Girls Project had provided land rights training to 48,000 girls.

    Phase one impact evaluation found that girls in the intervention were 24% more likely to earn their own income, 15% more likely to have a financial asset, predicted to marry one-and-a-half years later, 24% more likely to inherit land, and 13% less likely to drop out of school.

NOTES
  1. Landesa, "Security for Girls through Land: Pilot evaluation (2012-2013)" (December 2013).