Demographic Shocks and Women'S Labor Market Participation: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in India

49 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020 Last revised: 16 Aug 2020

See all articles by James Fenske

James Fenske

University of Warwick

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Song Yuan

University of Warwick

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

How did the 1918 influenza pandemic affect female labor force participation in India over the short run and the medium run? We use an event-study approach at the district level and four waves of decadal census data in order to answer this question. We find that districts most adversely affected by influenza mortality saw a temporary increase in female labor force participation in 1921, an increase that was concentrated in the service sector. By 1931, this increase had been reversed. We find suggestive evidence that distress labor supply by widows and rising wages help account for these results.

Keywords: Cultural norms, Demographic shocks, Female Labour Force Participation

JEL Classification: J11, J21

Suggested Citation

Fenske, James and Gupta, Bishnupriya and Yuan, Song, Demographic Shocks and Women'S Labor Market Participation: Evidence from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in India (July 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15077, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3661420

James Fenske (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Song Yuan

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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