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What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?

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  • Stephan Klasen
  • Janneke Pieters

Abstract

Female labor force participation rates in urban India between 1987 and 2011 are surprisingly low and have stagnated since the late 1980s. Despite rising growth, fertility decline, and rising wage and education levels, married women's labor force participation hovered around 18 percent. Analysis of five large cross-sectional micro surveys shows that a combination of supply and demand effects have contributed to this stagnation. The main supply side factors are rising household incomes and husband's education as well as the falling selectivity of highly educated women. On the demand side, the sectors that draw in female workers have expanded least, so that changes in the sectoral structure of employment alone would have actually led to declining participation rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Klasen & Janneke Pieters, 2015. "What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(3), pages 449-478.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:29:y:2015:i:3:p:449-478.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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