What Determines Women's Labor Supply? The Role of Home Productivity and Social Norms

70 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019 Last revised: 16 Aug 2022

See all articles by Farzana Afridi

Farzana Afridi

Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

Monisankar Bishnu

Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi

Kanika Mahajan

Ashoka University


We highlight the role of home productivity in explaining the gender gap in labor force participation (LFP), and the non-monotonic relationship of women's LFP with their education in developing countries (India) in contrast to the developed economies (United Kingdom, U.K.). We construct a model of couples' time allocation decisions allowing for both market and home productivity to improve with own education. Our theoretical predictions match the data for India at low levels of women's education but over-predict labor supply at higher levels, unlike the U.K.. Incorporating constraints imposed by social norms regarding the gendered division of labor shows that norms can act as a binding constraint, producing much smaller increases in women's labor supply to market work at higher education levels in transition economies. Our analysis suggests that home productivity, along with social norms regarding couples' time allocation, can be critical determinants of women's labor supply in developing countries.

Keywords: home production, social norms, women's labor supply, education, India, U.K.

JEL Classification: E24, J22, J16

Suggested Citation

Afridi, Farzana and Bishnu, Monisankar and Mahajan, Kanika, What Determines Women's Labor Supply? The Role of Home Productivity and Social Norms. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12666, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468613

Farzana Afridi (Contact Author)

Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata ( email )

203 B.T. Road
Kolkata, West Bengal 700108

Monisankar Bishnu

Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi ( email )

7 S .J. S.
Sansanwal Marg
New Delhi, 110016

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.isid.ac.in/~mbishnu

Kanika Mahajan

Ashoka University ( email )

University Campus, Plot #2,
Rajiv Gandhi Education City
Kundli, Haryana 131028

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