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(In)visibility, care and cultural barriers: the size and shape of women’s work in India

Deshpande, Ashwini and Kabeer, Naila ORCID: 0000-0001-7769-9540 (2019) (In)visibility, care and cultural barriers: the size and shape of women’s work in India. Discussion papers series in economics (DP No.04/19). Ashoka University, Department of Economics, Haryana, India.

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Abstract

Based on primary data from a large household survey in seven districts in West Bengal in India, this paper analyses the reasons underlying low labor force participation of women. In particular, we try to disentangle the intertwined strands of choice, constraints posed by domestic work and care responsibilities, and the predominant understanding of cultural norms as factors explaining the low labor force participation as measured by involvement in paid work. We document the fuzziness of the boundary between domestic work and unpaid (and therefore invisible) economic work that leads to mis-measurement of women’s work and suggest methods to improve measurement. We find that being primarily responsible for domestic chores lower the probability of “working”, after accounting for all the conventional factors. We also document how, for women, being out of paid work is not synonymous with care or domestic work, as they are involved in expenditure saving activities. We also find that religion and visible markers such as veiling are not significant determinants of the probability of working. Our data shows substantial unmet demand for work. Given that women are primarily responsible for domestic chores, we also document that women express a demand for work that would be compatible with household chores.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: https://www.ashoka.edu.in/economics
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD8689 Working Class - India
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J16 - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J21 - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J4 - Particular Labor Markets > J40 - General
B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches > B54 - Feminist Economics
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 01:51
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100992

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