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Does Women’s Work Improve Their Nutrition: Evidence from the Urban Philippines


Bisgrove, Eilene Z. & Popkin, Barry M. (1996). Does Women's Work Improve Their Nutrition: Evidence from the Urban Philippines. Social Science & Medicine, 43(10), 1475-1488.


Women's market work in developing countries is thought to improve their well-being directly through increased income for health-related purchases and indirectly through elevating women's status within the household. While a number of studies have looked at the effects of women's work and the cost of women's time on child nutrition and welfare, the direct effects of women's work on their own welfare have been largely untested. Using data on 1963 urban Filipino women from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, we examined the relationship between women's work and their dietary intakes of energy, protein, fat, calcium, and iron from home and commercially prepared foods. Determinants equations for home and commercial intakes were estimated simultaneously to adjust for non-independence. Appropriate methods were used to deal with selectivity, endogeneity, and unobserved heterogeneity. Nearly half (48%) of the women worked for pay, and commercially prepared foods made up an important part of working women's diets. Not only did women's work improve the quality of their diets, but there were strong distributional implications; lower-income women gained more than higher-income women. Employment sector also influenced women's dietary patterns. Informal non-wage work was associated with increased intakes, whereas formal sector work was associated with decreased intakes. Positive effects of work in the informal sector were greater for women from low-income households. Policy implications of the dietary benefits of informal non-wage work for low-income women are discussed.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science & Medicine


Bisgrove, Eilene Z.
Popkin, Barry M.