Skip to main content

Poor rural women in the developing world spend considerable time collecting water. Do women living in places where more time is needed for water collection tend to participate less in income-earning market-based activities? Do the education outcomes of their children tend to be worse? We use micro data for nine developing countries to help address these questions. Our primary aim is to describe the patterns in the data rather than to infer causality, although we do treat the household-level access to water as endogenous, assuming that community-level access is exogenous conditional on a wide range of geographic factors. Better access to water is not found to be associated with greater off-farm paid work but is associated with less unpaid work for women. In countries where substantial gender gaps in schooling exist, both boys’ and girls’ enrollments also tend to be better.