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Rural roads infrastructure and women empowerment in India


  • Nandwani, Bharti
  • Roychowdhury, Punarjit


The paper examines the impact of a rural roads construction program in India on women's outcomes. While spatial integration can provide women with increased education and employment opportunities, the extent of benefits might be limited by underlying gender norms. We identify the impact of the policy by exploiting the program rule that assigned roads based on the village population. Using a two-way fixed effect methodology, we find that increase in rural roads construction lowers mobility restrictions faced by women and improves norms around domestic violence. However, the result are mixed with respect to participation in other decision making and financial autonomy. Additionally, while we find positive impact on education, there is no impact on employment outcomes for females. We argue that a possible reason for a partial improvement in women outcomes could be gendered impact of the policy - men benefit more in terms of employment than women.

Suggested Citation

  • Nandwani, Bharti & Roychowdhury, Punarjit, 2023. "Rural roads infrastructure and women empowerment in India," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1320, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:1320

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anjali Adukia & Sam Asher & Paul Novosad, 2020. "Educational Investment Responses to Economic Opportunity: Evidence from Indian Road Construction," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 348-376, January.
    2. Chantal Duchene, 2011. "Gender and Transport," International Transport Forum Discussion Papers 2011/11, OECD Publishing.
    3. Shahidur R. Khandker & Zaid Bakht & Gayatri B. Koolwal, 2009. "The Poverty Impact of Rural Roads: Evidence from Bangladesh," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 685-722, July.
    4. Michael Lokshin & Ruslan Yemtsov, 2005. "Has Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation in Georgia Helped the Poor?," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank, vol. 19(2), pages 311-333.
    5. Sam Asher & Paul Novosad, 2020. "Rural Roads and Local Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(3), pages 797-823, March.
    6. Aparajita Dasgupta & Anahita Karandikar & Devvrat Raghav, 2024. "Road Access, Fertility, and Child Health in Rural India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 50(1), pages 117-147, March.
    7. Mehrotra, Santosh & Parida, Jajati K., 2017. "Why is the Labour Force Participation of Women Declining in India?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 360-380.
    8. Aggarwal, Shilpa, 2018. "Do rural roads create pathways out of poverty? Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 375-395.
    9. Shamdasani, Yogita, 2021. "Rural road infrastructure & agricultural production: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
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    More about this item


    Gender Norms; India; Roads; Women Empowerment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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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