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Relative Autonomy Index

The Relative Autonomy Index is a direct measure of motivational autonomy proposed by Ryan and Deci (2000). The measure is based on 'self-determination theory' (SDT) in psychology and expresses the extent to which a woman faces coercive or internalized social pressure to undertake domain-specific actions.

Developed by:

Ana Vaz, Sabina Alkire, Agnes Quisumbing, Esha Sraboni (Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative)

Measure domains:

External motivation Introjected motivation Autonomous motivation* *combined the forms of autonomous motivation (identified, integrated, and intrinsic) into a single subscale

Items and subscales:

Items not reported*
3 subscales

*flexible for context

Cronbach's alpha:

subscales range from 0.99-0.87

Study population(s):

Nationally representative sample of self-identified primary male and female household decision-makers in rural Bangladesh drawn from the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey (BIHS).

Additional information:

Forms part of the widely used Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI)

Measure validated?:


Link(s) to Validation Study and/or Measure:

Uses in Other Studies:

Vaz, A., Pratley, P., and Alkire, S. (2015) Measuring Women’s Autonomy in Chad and its Associations with Breastfeeding Practices Using the Relative Autonomy Index. OPHI Research in Progress 44a.
Lu Gram, Joanna Morrison, Neha Sharma, Bhim Shrestha, Dharma Manandhar, Anthony Costello, Naomi Saville & Jolene Skordis-Worrall (2016). Validating an Agency-based Tool for Measuring Women's Empowerment in a Complex Public Health Trial in Rural Nepal. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 18:1, 107-135, DOI:

Uses in Other Studies Links:

Citation of original article

Get citation
Vaz, A., Alkire, S., Quisumbing, A., and Sraboni, E. (2019). Measuring autonomy: Evidence from Bangladesh. OPHI Working Paper 125, University of Oxford.