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Labor markets and poverty in village economies

Bandiera, Oriana, Burgess, Robin, Das, Narayan, Gulesci, Selim, Rasul, Imran and Sulaiman, Munshi (2017) Labor markets and poverty in village economies. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132 (2). 811 - 870. ISSN 0033-5533

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Identification Number: 10.1093/qje/qjx003


We study how women’s choices over labor activities in village economies correlate with poverty and whether enabling the poorest women to take on the activities of their richer counterparts can set them on a sustainable trajectory out of poverty. To do this we conduct a large-scale randomized control trial, covering over 21,000 households in 1,309 villages surveyed four times over a seven year period, to evaluate a nationwide program in Bangladesh that transfers livestock assets and skills to the poorest women. At baseline, the poorest women mostly engage in low return and seasonal casual wage labor while wealthier women solely engage in livestock rearing. The program enables poor women to start engaging in livestock rearing, increasing their aggregate labor supply and earnings. This leads to asset accumulation (livestock, land and business assets) and poverty reduction, both sustained after four and seven years. These gains do not crowd out the livestock businesses of noneligible households while the wages these receive for casual jobs increase as the poor reduce their labor supply. Our results show that: (i) the poor are able to take on the work activities of the non-poor but face barriers to doing so, and, (ii) one-off interventions that remove these barriers lead to sustainable poverty reduction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J22 - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O12 - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2016 15:27
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 21:06
Projects: RES-544-28-5001
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Department for International Development, BRAC, Australian Agency for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency, Oxfam, International Growth Centre

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