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Given the complexity of measuring resilience, development practitioners are constantly seeking observable proxies that can help target resilience-building initiatives. Evidence suggests that female-headed and male-headed households differ in terms of their vulnerability and resilience, so household head gender may provide policymakers with important information about how best to target their interventions. However, the extent to which these gender differences can be explained by other observable characteristics, such as education and household demographics, remains an open question.

Using an index of resilience employed by Oxfam GB, we provide evidence on this question by comparing the resilience of female- and male-headed households interviewed in a series of 16 evaluations of rural development projects carried out in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We find that there is a statistically significant difference between female- and male-headed households, on average, in terms of their measured resilience, and that only just over half of this difference can be explained by observable characteristics. However, since the size of this difference is small, using information on household head gender does not significantly improve the accuracy of targeting methods, such as proxy means tests, that aim to identify households for resilience-building initiatives.

This is the author's original manuscript which has been published and is available in Climate and Development (2019),

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