What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?

43 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2013

See all articles by Stephan Klasen

Stephan Klasen

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Janneke Pieters

IZA; Wageningen UR

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Abstract

We study the surprisingly low level and stagnation of female labor force participation rates in urban India between 1987 and 2009. Despite rising growth, fertility decline, and rising wages and education levels, women's labor force participation stagnated at around 18%. Using five large cross-sectional micro surveys, we find that a combination of supply and demand effects have contributed to this stagnation. The main supply side factors were rising household incomes, husband's education, stigmas against educated women engaging in menial work, and falling selectivity of highly educated women. On the demand side, employment in sectors appropriate for educated women grew less than the supply of educated workers, leading many women to withdraw from the labor force.

Keywords: female labor force participation, education, India

JEL Classification: J20, J16, I25, O15

Suggested Citation

Klasen, Stephan and Pieters, Janneke, What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7597. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2325855

Stephan Klasen (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

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Goettingen, 37073
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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
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Wageningen UR ( email )

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Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

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