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Social Barriers to Female Migration: Theory and Evidence from Bangladesh

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  • Amirapu, Amrit
  • Asadullah, M Niaz
  • Wahhaj, Zaki

Abstract

Traditional gender norms can restrict independent migration by women, thus preventing them from taking advantage of economic opportunities in urban non-agricultural industries. However, women may be able to circumvent such restrictions by using marriage to engage in long-distance migration - if they are able to match with migrating grooms. Guided by a theoretical model in which women make marriage and migration decisions jointly, we hypothesize that marriage and labour markets will be inextricably linked by the possibility of marital migration. To test our hypotheses, we use the event of the construction of a major bridge in Bangladesh - which dramatically reduced travel time between the economically deprived north-western region and the manufacturing belt located around the capital city Dhaka - as a source of plausibly exogenous variation in migration costs. Our empirical ffndings support our model's main predictions and provide strong evidence for the existence of social barriers to female migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Amirapu, Amrit & Asadullah, M Niaz & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2020. "Social Barriers to Female Migration: Theory and Evidence from Bangladesh," GLO Discussion Paper Series 692, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:692
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; marriage markets; female labour force participation; gender norms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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