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Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India


  • Robert Jensen


Do labor market opportunities for women affect marriage and fertility decisions? We provided three years of recruiting services to help young women in randomly selected rural Indian villages get jobs in the business process outsourcing industry. Because the industry was so new at the time of the study, there was almost no awareness of these jobs, allowing us in effect to exogenously increase women's labor force opportunities from the perspective of rural households. We find that young women in treatment villages were significantly less likely to get married or have children during this period, choosing instead to enter the labor market or obtain more schooling or postschool training. Women also report wanting to have fewer children and to work more steadily throughout their lifetime, consistent with increased aspirations for a career. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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  • Robert Jensen, 2012. "Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 753-792.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:2:p:753-792

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oded Galor, 2005. "The Demographic Transition and the Emergence of Sustained Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 494-504, 04/05.
    2. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094.
    3. Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2010. "Microeconomic Approaches to Development: Schooling, Learning, and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 81-96, Summer.
    4. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
    5. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-387, June.
    6. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
    7. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of the Impact of Sample Attrition on the Second Generation of Respondents in the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 300-344.
    8. Jishnu Das & Stefan Dercon & James Habyarimana & Pramila Krishnan & Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "School Inputs, Household Substitution, and Test Scores," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 29-57, April.
    9. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 803-815, September.
    10. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548.
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