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Married couples’ perceptions on women’s autonomy and subjective well-being in Lao PDR

Kanako Yoshikawa (Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan)
Yusuke Kamiya (Faculty of Economics, Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 10 June 2019

Issue publication date: 20 June 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of married couples regarding women’s autonomy and the association of these perceptions with the subjective well-being of wives in Lao PDR.


The study was conducted in semi-urban communities in Vientiane Capital of Lao PDR. Data were collected from 198 matched married couples with children under 12 years of age. Cross-tabulation analysis and multivariate regression analysis were used to assess the association between couple’s perceptions regarding women’s autonomy and the subjective well-being of wives.


Results from regression analysis revealed a positive association between the self-reported autonomy of wives and their subjective well-being. In contrast, neither the husband’s perceptions nor the couple’s concordance regarding the autonomy of the wife was associated with the level of the wife’s subjective well-being.

Research limitations/implications

The survey was conducted in four small communities in Vientiane Capital. Thus, larger and more representative studies covering the entire country would be preferable for future policy orientation.


The study sites belong to the Lao-Lum group, which follows a matrilineal inheritance system under which wives generally enjoy a relatively higher social status than do women elsewhere in the world. The findings suggest that, even in women-centered settings, interventions aimed at increasing a woman’s perception of her household decision-making autonomy can improve her subjective well-being.



Yoshikawa, K. and Kamiya, Y. (2019), "Married couples’ perceptions on women’s autonomy and subjective well-being in Lao PDR", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 46 No. 6, pp. 792-804.



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