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

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  • Robert T. Jensen

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert T. Jensen, 2010. "Economic Opportunities and Gender Differences in Human Capital: Experimental Evidence for India," NBER Working Papers 16021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16021
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2014. "Political reservations and women's entrepreneurship in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 138-153.
    2. Agier, Isabelle & Guérin, Isabelle & Szafarz, Ariane, 2012. "Child gender and parental borrowing: Evidence from India," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 363-365.
    3. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    4. Alejandro J. Ganimian & Richard J. Murnane, 2014. "Improving Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: Lessons from Rigorous Impact Evaluations," NBER Working Papers 20284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Eline Bos, 2016. "Leading by Example: What is the effect on educational outcomes of exposing girls, in addition to parents, to female role models?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-37, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Sonia Bhalotra & Abhishek Chakravarty & Dilip Mookherjee & Francisco J. Pino, "undated". "Property Rights and Gender Bias: Evidence from Land Reform in West Bengal," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-281, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    7. Mehtabul Azam & Aimee Chin & Nishith Prakash, 2013. "The Returns to English-Language Skills in India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 335-367.
    8. 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.
    9. Ghani,Syed Ejaz & Grover,Arti & Kerr,Sari & Kerr,William Robert, 2016. "Will market competition trump gender discrimination in India ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7814, The World Bank.
    10. Stephen D. O'Connell, 2014. "Political Inclusion and Educational Investment," Working Papers 4, City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Economics, revised 15 Jul 2015.
    11. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0668-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Ximena Peña & Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Hugo Ñopo & Jorge Luis Castañeda, 2013. "Mujer y movilidad social," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010498, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    13. Kelly, Orla & Krishna, Aditi & Bhabha, Jacqueline, 2016. "Private schooling and gender justice: An empirical snapshot from Rajasthan, India's largest state," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 175-187.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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