This paper presents new evidence on the association between gender and poverty based on an empirical analysis of 11 data sets from 10 developing countries. The paper computes income- and expenditure-based poverty measures and investigates their sensitivity to the use of per capita and per adult equivalent units. It also tests for differences in poverty incidence between individuals in male- and female-headed households using stochastic dominance analysis. Stochastic dominance analysis reveals that differences between male- and female-headed households among the very poor are not sufficiently large that one can conclude that one is unambiguously worse- or better-off, except for a few exceptions. When using the method of endogenous bounds, persons in female-headed households in rural Ghana and Bangladesh are consistently worse-off, using two stochastic dominance criteria.
These results suggest that, among the very poor, persons in male- and female-headed households may not differ significantly. The consistent and significant exceptions, rural Ghana and Bangladesh, suggest that cultural and institutional factors may be responsible for higher poverty among women in these countries. The authors' results point to the need to analyze determinants of household income and consumption using multivariate methods and to give greater attention to the processes underlying female headship.