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Caste, female labor supply and the gender wage gap in India: Boserup revisited

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  • Kanika Mahajan

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi)

  • Bharat Ramaswami

    () (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi)

Abstract

The gender wage gap is notable not just for its persistence and ubiquity but also for its variation across regions and countries. A natural question is how greater work participation by women matters to female wages and the gender wage gap. Within India, a seeming paradox is that gender differentials in agricultural wage are the largest in southern regions of India that are otherwise favorable to women. Boserup (1970) hypothesized that this is due to greater labor force participation by women in these regions. This is not obvious as greater female labor supply could depress male wage as well. Other factors also need to be accounted for especially since women have fewer opportunities for non-farm employment. This paper undertakes a formal test of the Boserup proposition. We find that differences in female labor supply are able to explain 55 percent of the gender wage gap between northern and southern states of India. The paper also finds thatwomen gain from greater non-farm employment, even if their direct participation in such activity is limited. This happens because of higher wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Kanika Mahajan & Bharat Ramaswami, 2015. "Caste, female labor supply and the gender wage gap in India: Boserup revisited," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 15-02, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:15-02
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    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:331-344 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Deshpande, Ashwini & Goel, Deepti & Khanna, Shantanu, 2018. "Bad Karma or Discrimination? Male–Female Wage Gaps Among Salaried Workers in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 331-344.
    3. Rao, Nitya & Pradhan, Mamata & Roy, Devesh, 2017. "Gender justice and food security in India: A review," IFPRI discussion papers 1600, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Rada, Nicholas E. & Schimmelpfennig, David E., 2015. "Propellers of Agricultural Productivity in India," Economic Research Report 262202, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Mahajan, Kanika, 2017. "Rainfall Shocks and the Gender Wage Gap: Evidence from Indian Agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 156-172.
    6. Saumik Paul & Vengadeshvaran Sarma, 2013. "The Livelihood Effects of Industrialization on Displaced Households: Evidence from Falta Special Economic Zone," Discussion Papers 13/09, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    7. Paul, Saumik & Sarma, Vengadeshvaran, 2013. "The livelihood effects of industrialization on displaced households: Evidence from falta special economic zone, West Bengal," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-083, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender wage gap; Agriculture; Labor supply; Caste;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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