Gendered analysis of food security gaps in rural Nepal

The gender of the household head, economic status, land ownership, and education significantly influence food security for rural households in Nepal. Gender studies on food security have often focused on the differences between male-headed households (MHHs) and female-headed households (FHHs). Hence, they have mostly ignored the possibility of food security gaps between the different types of FHHs, treating them as homogeneous. Therefore, using nationally representative data from Nepal and applying exogenous switching treatment effect regression models, we investigated whether food security differences exist between de facto FHHs (i.e., households managed by a woman whose husband is physically not present at home owing to work outside) and de jure FHHs (i.e., households managed by a single, widowed, or divorced woman). Contrary to the general hypothesis, we did not find any significant difference in the food security status between MHHs and FHHs. Nevertheless, we found that food security is significantly lower among de jure FHHs than among MHHs. More surprising, considering the common belief, is that the food security difference between de facto FHHs and de jure FHHs is larger than the difference between de jure FHHs and MHHs.