A comparison of women household heads in North and Northeast Brazil reveals effects of gender differentiation and divergent histories of migration. As in Brazil in general, women heads have more education and less income than male heads. They make extensive use of social security income, especially as a source of maintenance in rural areas. They take on headship either when adolescents, or, much more often, when over the age of 45. They include persons from their wider social networks much more than male heads do. Compared to Brazil in general and to the Northeast, the North, with a history of male immigration, has fewer women household heads in general, and especially in rural areas. When compared to other regions, they have more instruction relative to their male counterparts. They seldom live alone, and there are more persons under their responsibility in each household. In the Northeast, with a history of emigration, women are much more often household heads, as is especially clear in rural areas. Northeastern women heads do not present a clear pattern of higher formal instruction than their male counterparts. They frequently reside alone, and there is little difference in number of household members between urban and rural areas.
Women Responsible for Households; North; Northeast; Rural