Sociologists have long recognized women's empowerment as a key factor in improving development and health in developing countries. Using new data, this study goes beyond the traditionally used indicators of empowerment by highlighting the potential role of women's rights to land, property, and loans in explaining cross-national variation in child health. Results show that land and property rights are associated with lower rates of infant and child mortality across 75 developing countries, net of women's literacy and a variety of controls. Notably, the robustness of the land and property variables is comparable to that of GDP or access to clean water/sanitation. This provides some suggestive evidence that perhaps these aspects of women's empowerment may be just as important as some of the more conventional correlates of child health. However, access to bank loans is not significantly associated with lower infant and child mortality. This is consistent with a growing body of research that questions the efficacy of microfinance and loan programs for poverty reduction, health, and other development outcomes.
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