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Status, caste, and the time allocation of women in rural India

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Author Info

  • Mukesh Eswaran

    ()
    (University of British Columbia)

  • Bharat Ramaswami

    ()
    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

  • Wilima Wadhwa

    ()
    (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)

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 2004-05 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. 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 paper has implications for how culture impinges on the rate at which poverty in developing countries can be reduced.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 11-12.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:11-12

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Keywords: Status; caste; time allocation; poverty;

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References

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  1. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
  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. Anderson, Siwan & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2009. "What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 179-191, November.
  4. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Klasen, Stephan & Pieters, Janneke, 2013. "What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?," IZA Discussion Papers 7597, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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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