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Women as agents of change: Female income and mobility in India

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  • Luke, Nancy
  • Munshi, Kaivan

Abstract

Economic globalization will give many women in developing countries access to steady and relatively remunerative employment for the first time, potentially shifting bargaining power within their households and changing the choices that are made for their children. This paper exploits a unique setting -- a group of tea plantations in South India where women are employed in permanent wage labor and where incomes do not vary by caste -- to anticipate the impact of globalization on mobility across social groups in the future. The main result of the paper is that a relative increase in female income weakens the family's ties to the ancestral community and the traditional economy, but these mobility enhancing effects are obtained for certain historically disadvantaged castes alone. Although the paper provides a context-specific explanation for why the women from these castes emerge as agents of change, the first general implication of the analysis is that the incentive and the ability of women to use their earnings to influence household decisions depends importantly on their social background. The second implication is that historically disadvantaged groups may, in fact, be especially responsive to new opportunities precisely because they have fewer ties to the traditional economy to hold them back.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-17

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:94:y:2011:i:1:p:1-17

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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Keywords: Globalization Mobility Female income Household decisions Education Marriage Marital violence Networks Caste Gender;

References

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  1. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Human resources: Empirical modeling of household and family decisions," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1883-2023 Elsevier.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bhaumik, Sumon K. & Dimova, Ralitza & Gang, Ira N., 2014. "Is Women's Ownership of Land a Panacea in Developing Countries? Evidence from Land-Owning Farm Households in Malawi," IZA Discussion Papers 7907, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Demonsant, Jean-Luc, 2012. "Education and migration choices in hierarchical societies: The case of Matam, Senegal," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 875-889.
  3. Konte, Maty, 2014. "Gender difference in support for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa: Do social institutions matter?," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  4. Chin, Yoo-Mi, 2012. "Credit Program Participation and Decline in Violence: Does Self-Selection Matter?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1690-1699.
  5. Wang, Shing-Yi, 2014. "Property rights and intra-household bargaining," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 192-201.
  6. Stephan Klasen & Janneke Pieters, 2013. "What explains the stagnation of female labor force participation in urban India?," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 146, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  7. Yoo-Mi Chin, 2012. "Male backlash, bargaining, or exposure reduction?: women’s working status and physical spousal violence in India," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 175-200, January.
  8. Doss, Cheryl, 2013. "Intrahousehold bargaining and resource allocation in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6337, The World Bank.

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