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Handa, Sudhanshu (1996). The Determinants of Female Headship in Jamaica: Results from a Structural Model. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 44(4), 793-815.


Much of the existing research on female headship in developing countries presumes that female-headed households (FHHs) are the result of a breakdown in family relations such as abandonment, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, divorce, or widowhood. In other words, the existence of FHHs is seen to be a constraint imposed on women by social or cultural forces. However, in Jamaica FHHs represent 42% of all house-holds. This extremely high incidence (one of the highest in the world) indicates that the conventional assumptions about FHHs might not apply in Jamaica. Indeed, the sociological and anthropological literature suggests that Jamaican women actively choose to live and raise children on their own and that FHHs are a response to local social and economic conditions. This article departs from the previous research on headship by treating the formation of FHHs as endogenous and investigating the extent to which the rate of FHHs can be explained by economic forces.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Economic Development and Cultural Change


Handa, Sudhanshu