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Status, Caste, and the Time Allocation of Women in Rural India

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  • Mukesh Eswaran
  • Bharat Ramaswami
  • Wilima Wadhwa

Abstract

We argue that women may be disinclined to participate in market work in the rural areas of India because of family status concerns in a culture that stigmatizes market work by married women. We set out a theoretical framework that offers predictions regarding the effects of caste-based status concerns on the time allocation of women. We then use the all-India National Sample Survey data for the year 2004-5 and the Time Use Survey for six states of India for the year 1998-99 to empirically test these hypotheses. After controlling for a host of correlates, we find that the ratio of women's market work to men's declines as we move up the caste hierarchy. This ratio falls as family wealth rises, and the decline is steeper for the higher castes. Finally, the effect on women's market work of higher education is weaker for the higher castes. These findings lend support to our theory and to the view that, through its emphasis on family status, caste plays a pivotal role in undermining the autonomy of women. Our article has implications for how culture impinges on the rate at which poverty in developing countries can be reduced.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/668282
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/668282
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Volume (Year): 61 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 311 - 333

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/668282

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  1. Cameron, Lisa A & Dowling, J Malcolm & Worswick, Christopher, 2001. "Education and Labor Market Participation of Women in Asia: Evidence from Five Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 461-77, April.
  2. B.Curtis Eaton & Mukesh Eswaran, 2009. "Well-being and Affluence in the Presence of a Veblen Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1088-1104, 07.
  3. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  4. Anderson, Siwan & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2009. "What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 179-191, November.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Stopnitzky, Yaniv, 2012. "The Bargaining Power of Missing Women: Evidence from a Sanitation Campaign in India," MPRA Paper 37841, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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