CFDP 2261

Mothers’ Social Networks and Socioeconomic Gradients of Isolation


Publication Date: November 2020

Pages: 43


Social connections are fundamental to human wellbeing. This paper examines the social networks of young married women in rural Odisha, India.. This is a group, for whom highly-gendered norms around marriage, mobility, and work are likely to shape opportunities to form and maintain meaningful ties with other women. We track the social networks of 2,170 mothers over four years, and find a high degree of isolation. Wealthier women and women more-advantaged castes have smaller social networks than their less-advantaged peers. These gradients are primarily driven by the fact that more-advantaged women are less likely to know other women within their same socioeconomic group than are less-advantaged women are. There exists strong homophily by socioeconomic status that is symmetric across socioeconomic groups. Mediation analysis shows that SES differences in social isolation are strongly associated to caste, ownership of toilets and distance. Further research should investigate the formation and role of female networks.