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Economic Opportunities and Gender Differences in Human Capital: Experimental Evidence for India

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  • Robert T. Jensen
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    Abstract

    Gender differences in health and education are a concern for a number of developing countries. While standard theory predicts human capital should respond to market returns, social norms (e.g., disapproval of women working outside the home) may weaken or even sever this link for girls. Though many studies have examined the link between women's wages or labor force participation and investment in girls, two significant problems are the possibility of omitted variables bias and reverse causality, and difficulty in identifying which of several mechanisms (returns, bargaining power, income, etc.) link the two. To overcome these problems, we provided three years of recruiting services to help young women in randomly selected Indian villages get jobs in the business process outsourcing industry. Girls in treatment villages were more likely to be in school and had greater measured BMI. We argue that the design of the experiment (providing opportunities almost exclusively for young, unmarried women rather than current mothers) allows us to rule out that mechanisms other than increases in the returns explain our results.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16021.

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    Date of creation: May 2010
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    Publication status: published as Jensen, Robert (2012). " Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India ," Quarterly Journal of Economics , 127(2), p. 753 - 792.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16021

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    Cited by:
    1. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-79, December.
    2. Isabelle Agier & Isabelle Guérin & Ariane Szafarz, 2012. "Child Gender and Parental Borrowing: Evidence from India," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/149094, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Mehtabul Azam & Aimee Chin & Nishith Prakash, 2010. "The Returns to English-Language Skills in India," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1002, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    4. Richard J. Murnane & Alejandro J. Ganimian, 2014. "Improving Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: Lessons from Rigorous Evaluations," NBER Working Papers 20284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ximena Peña & Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Hugo Ñopo & Jorge Luis Castañeda, 2013. "Mujer y movilidad social," DOCUMENTOS CEDE, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE 010498, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. Ejaz Ghani & William R. Kerr & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2014. "Political Reservations and Women’s Entrepreneurship in India," NBER Working Papers 19868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Patricia Justino & Ivan Cardona & Rebecca Mitchell & Catherine Müller, 2012. "Quantifying the Impact of Women’s Participation in Post-Conflict Economic Recovery," HiCN Working Papers 131, Households in Conflict Network.

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