On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Affects Labor Supply and Gender Norms

80 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019

See all articles by Erica Field

Erica Field

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Rohini Pande

Yale University - Economic Growth Center

Natalia Rigol

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Simone Schaner

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR)

Charity Moore

Yale University

Date Written: September 2019

Abstract

Can greater control over earned income incentivize women to work and influence gender norms? In collaboration with Indian government partners, we provided rural women with individual bank accounts and randomly varied whether their wages from a public workfare program were directly deposited into these accounts or into the male household head’s account (the status quo). Women in a random subset of villages were also trained on account use. In the short run, relative to women just offered bank accounts, those who also received direct deposit and training increased their labor supply in the public and private sectors. In the long run, gender norms liberalized: women who received direct deposit and training became more accepting of female work, and their husbands perceived fewer social costs to having a wife who works. These effects were concentrated in households with otherwise lower levels of, and stronger norms against, female work. Women in these households also worked more in the long run and became more empowered. These patterns are consistent with models of household decision-making in which increases in bargaining power from greater control over income interact with, and influence, gender norms.

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Suggested Citation

Field, Erica and Pande, Rohini and Rigol, Natalia and Schaner, Simone and Moore, Charity, On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Affects Labor Supply and Gender Norms (September 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26294. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3458219

Erica Field (Contact Author)

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business-Economics Group ( email )

Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States
(919) 660-1857 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.duke.edu/ericafield/

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
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Rohini Pande

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Natalia Rigol

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Simone Schaner

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

Charity Moore

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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