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Health Policy. 2011 Oct;102(2-3):304-13. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 May 18.

Women's autonomy and reproductive health care utilisation: empirical evidence from Tajikistan.

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Human Development Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency, 3rd floor, Nibancho Center Building 5-25, Niban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8012, Japan.



Women's autonomy is widely considered to be a key to improving maternal health in developing countries, whereas there is no consistent empirical evidence to support this claim. This paper examines whether or not and how women's autonomy within the household affects the use of reproductive health care, using a household survey data from Tajikistan.


Estimation is performed by the bivariate probit model whereby woman's use of health services and the level of women's autonomy are recursively and simultaneously determined. The data is from a sample of women aged 15-49 from the Tajikistan Living Standard Measurement Survey 2007.


Women's autonomy as measured by women's decision-making on household financial matters increase the likelihood that a woman receives antenatal and delivery care, whilst it has a negative effect on the probability of attending to four or more antenatal consultations. The hypothesis that women's autonomy and reproductive health care utilisation are independently determined is rejected for most of the estimation specifications, indicating the importance of taking into account the endogenous nature of women's autonomy when assessing its effect on health care use.


The empirical results reconfirm the assertion that women's status within the household is closely linked to reproductive health care utilisation in developing countries. Policymakers therefore need not only to implement not only direct health interventions but also to focus on broader social policies which address women's empowerment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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