Control over Earnings

One of the measures for empowerment is taken to be control over one’s own earnings. A person having control over their own earning is considered to be empowered enough to make decisions. In the National Family Health Survey – 3 (2005-06) the similar question was asked to respondents. The summary of the findings is given below:


Control over own earnings




Urban Areas



Rural Areas



Control over own earning


As we can see above a substantial percentage of women have control over their own earnings in the urban areas showing high empowerment as opposed to men. The numbers for rural areas is nearly the same with a tilt towards men.


Joint Decision by husband and wife over earnings


Husband’s Earnings

Wife’s Earnings

Urban Areas



Rural Areas



 Joint Decision making

In both rural and urban areas, wife has more joint say in the way the husband’s earnings will be spent and not vice-versa.


Interesting observations have emerged from the above data:

  1. In the urban areas, it is the women who are more empowered than men based on the above metric as they have more control over their own earnings and more number of women participate in the joint decision of their husband’s earnings
  2. The empowerment levels in the rural areas is nearly the same with both the percentages not having a wide difference.

 The above data clearly busts the myth that women are not empowered enough. In fact it shows a completely different picture where men have a lower control over their own incomes.


Source: National Family Health Survey – 3 (2005-06), Page 453 and 457, Women’s reports.

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2 Responses to Control over Earnings

  1. What is the definition of “control over earnings”? What were the questions in the survey that tried to measure this?

    Also, are the percentages deceptive? What do the absolutes look like?

    • Burt Phoenix says:

      Control over earnings implies ‘control over the use of one’s earnings’. The question asked to working married women to judge control over their own earnings was – ‘Who decides how the money you earn will be used: mainly you, mainly your husband, or you and your husband jointly?’.

      For control over men’s earnings married women were asked ‘Who—the wife, the husband, or both husband and wife jointly—is the main decision maker with regard to the husband’s earnings’

      No, the percentages are not deceptive as the number of men and women in India are not equal, absolute numbers will give deceptive results. In such a scenario, percentage is the optimal measure.

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