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QJE: Can employment opportunities transform women’s work and family lives?

9 March 2012

Robert Jensen, author of a new Quarterly Journal of Economics article, writes on the OUPblog about whether increased opportunities in the job market can transform women's work and family lives.

"In many developing countries, women often leave school, marry and start having children at a young age. For example, in India, less than half of girls aged 11-18 are enrolled in school. By age 18, nearly 60 percent of women are married and over a quarter have given birth. These outcomes are powerful indicators of the low social and economic progress of women, and may have consequences for poverty and income growth. It is therefore important to understand what factors can help improve these outcomes.

"Most discussion emphasizes the need to address the underlying social or cultural underpinnings of women’s low status, or legal remedies such as raising the minimum age of school leaving or marriage. While such efforts are certainly important, we asked whether the labor market can play a role. In particular, if high-skill, well-paying jobs are available to women, will parents keep their daughters in school longer? And will young women then also delay marriage and childbearing in favor of working? Or are social norms about women’s roles or the stigma against women working outside of the home too great to be overcome simply by increasing the potential rewards in the labor market?"

Read the full blog post: Can employment opportunities transform women’s work and family lives?

Read the paper: Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women’s Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India (free online for a limited time)