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On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Affects Labor Supply and Gender Norms

Author

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  • Erica M. Field
  • Rohini Pande
  • Natalia Rigol
  • Simone G. Schaner
  • Charity Troyer Moore

Abstract

Can greater control over earned income incentivize women to work and influence gender norms? In collaboration with Indian government partners, we provided rural women with individual bank accounts and randomly varied whether their wages from a public workfare program were directly deposited into these accounts or into the male household head’s account (the status quo). Women in a random subset of villages were also trained on account use. In the short run, relative to women just offered bank accounts, those who also received direct deposit and training increased their labor supply in the public and private sectors. In the long run, gender norms liberalized: women who received direct deposit and training became more accepting of female work, and their husbands perceived fewer social costs to having a wife who works. These effects were concentrated in households with otherwise lower levels of, and stronger norms against, female work. Women in these households also worked more in the long run and became more empowered. These patterns are consistent with models of household decision-making in which increases in bargaining power from greater control over income interact with, and influence, gender norms.

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  • Erica M. Field & Rohini Pande & Natalia Rigol & Simone G. Schaner & Charity Troyer Moore, 2019. "On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Affects Labor Supply and Gender Norms," NBER Working Papers 26294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26294
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    3. Kjelsrud, Anders & Sjurgard, Kristin Vikan, 2020. "Public work and private violence," Memorandum 1/2020, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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    8. Tagat, Anirudh, 2020. "Female matters: Impact of a workfare program on intra-household female decision-making in rural India," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 20(C).
    9. Horn, Samantha & Jamison, Julian C. & Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2020. "Does lasting behavior change require knowledge change? Evidence from savings interventions for young adults," CEPR Discussion Papers 15392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    11. Rachel Cassidy & Marije Groot Bruinderink & Wendy Janssens & Karlijn Morsink, 2020. "The Power to Protect: Household Bargaining and Female Condom Use," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-058/VI, Tinbergen Institute.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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