Assistant Professor Catalina Herrera-Almanza is the Principal Investigator in a project entitled “Networks and Global Health: Experimental Evidence of Women’s Social Networks, Reproductive Health, and Well-Being in Developing Countries.” The research team includes Assistant Professor Dr. Praveen Kumar Pathak, (Delhi School of Economics), Assistant Professor Dr. S Anukriti (Boston College) and Assistant Professor Dr. Mahesh Karra, (Boston University).
Social norms and low autonomy constrain women in developing countries from seeking health care services, especially family planning, when they want them. The researchers are testing to see if these barriers can be overcome in the context of family planning (a) by offering women voucher subsidies and (b) by enabling women to seek family planning services with their peers (i.e., friends or relatives).
As part of this study, the researchers conducted a field experiment in rural Jaunpur, in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, 63% of births do not meet the WHO recommendation on birth spacing and 18% of married women have unmet need for family planning. The baseline survey conducted in 27 villages in Jaunpur found that nearly 36% of women do not speak to anyone, besides their husband or mother-in-law, about reproductive health issues bringing home the point that the health delivery system needs to recognize that it is difficult for young women to visit health facilities alone.
In July 2019, the research team of the four principal investigators and a team of six student researchers from BU and three student researchers from the Delhi School of Economics, presented their fieldwork progress and results from the baseline survey at several places including a community health center in Jaunpur, Delhi School of Economics and Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.