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Labor-tying and poverty in a rural economy:evidence from bangladesh

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  • Selim Gulesci

Abstract

I show that labor-tying (being in a labor contract where the employer also acts as an insurance-provider) is an important channel through which the poor in rural Bangladesh insure themselves against risks. Using a theoretical framework adapted from Bardhan (1983), I analyze the effects of an exogenous increase in the outside options of poor women (through an improvement in their self-employment opportunities) on their and their spouses' participation in tied labor, as well as the general equilibrium effects of the treatment on the terms of the labor contracts in the village. I find that treated women and their spouses are less likely to be in tied-labor contracts. Their wages increase through two channels: (a) due to the switch from tied to casual labor contracts (b) through the general equilibrium effects in the village labor market. Furthermore, I find that the treated households form reciprocal transfer links with wealthier households in the village. These findings imply that poor households may be involved in second-best labor contracts to insure themselves against risks. When their self-employment opportunities improve, they break these ties and move to greater reliance on reciprocal transfer arrangements. Keywords: tied labor, poverty, rural labor market. JEL Classification: J43; O12; I32.

Suggested Citation

  • Selim Gulesci, 2012. "Labor-tying and poverty in a rural economy:evidence from bangladesh," Working Papers 460, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:460
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Pranab K. Bardhan, 1983. "Labor-tying in a Poor Agrarian Economy: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 501-514.
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    19. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4392 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Oriana Bandiera & Robin Burgess & Narayan Das & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2013. "Can Basic Entrepreneurship Transform the Economic Lives of the Poor?," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 043, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. Oriana Bandiera & Robin Burgess & Narayan Das & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2017. "Labor Markets and Poverty in Village Economies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(2), pages 811-870.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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