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Cornell University

Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition

Changes in Men’s and Women’s Economic Roles in Rural Indian Households, 2009-2014


The purpose of my dissertation research is to examine the effect of men’s non-farm employment on women’s economic roles in rural India, as mediated by class, caste, and education. The main hypothesis of my dissertation is that changes in men’s time-allocation towards wage and non-wage work drives changes in women’s time allocation towards wage and non-wage work in rural India. Formative to this project was my pre-dissertation field research experience for three months in the two villages of Maharashtra. My exposure to the field setting made me aware of the micro-level contradictions with respect to women’s participation in the labor market. For example, while men in these villages have moved towards non-farm employment, women’s economic roles are ambiguous with respect to their participation in the wage labor market. This inter-disciplinary project uses panel-level household data from the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad. Using cross-sectional data from six villages in central India, I initially examine the socio-economic determinants of occupational status in rural India in 2014. For this analysis, in addition to wage and non-wage work, I also account for multiple job holding by men and women in rural India. Further, using the techniques of simultaneous equation modeling that account for simultaneity and endogeneity of time use, I examine how changes in men’s occupational time-use affect changes in women’s occupational time-use in the household. The reason for using data on individual time-use is to capture the non-wage work performed by both men and women in rural India. Here, the unit of analysis was the married couple (householder and their spouse) both of whom were present in the household between 2009-2014. I also control for the number of other working members in the household besides the couple. With respect to the ICRISAT sampled population, my research shows no statistically significant relationship between changes in men’s occupational time-use and changes in women’s occupational time use. Hence, other factors not considered in this research account for changes in women’s allocation of time to work during 2009-2014. My dissertation project has implications for understanding the complexity of livelihood changes in rural India, and women’s relative empowerment within the household.

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