Autonomy Index

The Autonomy Index is a 5-item measure asking women about their household and financial decision making. For example, questions dealt with childcare decisions and everyday spending. Items were included as part of Mexico's ENCEL (Evaluation Questionnaire) survey and used to evaluate the effect of the Oportunidades program on birth spacing and contraceptive use. The Oportunidades program provided women with cash-transfers for the purposes of investing in their family members' health and education.


Geographies Tested: Mexico

Populations Included: Female

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


1. Who makes decisions regarding children attending school?
2. Who makes decisions regarding children going to the doctor?
3. Who makes decisions regarding children purchasing clothes?
4. Who makes decisions on spending money on household items?
5. Who makes decisions on spending when the titular* has extra money?

*Titular refers to the female household heads (i.e., the Oportunidades cash transfer beneficiaries)*

Response Options:
Makes decision by herself - 3
Makes decisions jointly with her husband - 2
Husband makes decisions - 1

Scoring Procedures

All five items are summed to create an autonomy index score which ranged from 5 (husband makes all of the decisions) to 15 (woman makes all of the decisions independently). These index scores were then categorized into the following autonomy groups: lowest (5-7), low (8-9), medium (10), and high (>10).

Original Citation

Feldman, B. S., Zaslavsky, A. M., Ezzati, M., Peterson, K. E., & Mitchell, M. (2009). Contraceptive Use, Birth Spacing, and Autonomy: An Analysis of the Oportunidades Program in Rural Mexico. Studies in Family Planning, 40(1), 51-62.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


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