Work and Women's Marriage, Fertility and Empowerment: Evidence from Textile Mill Employment in India

Anitha Sivasankaran, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Women in developing countries are starting to join the workforce in greater numbers, and it has been argued that such exposure can lead to improved outcomes for them. I exploit plausibly exogenous variation in duration worked in the formal sector created by a large firm's decision to replace fixed-term contracts with daily employment contracts. Using administrative data, I find that the more time women were exposed to a fixed-term contract, the longer they stayed in the formal labor market. I find that the women who worked longer delayed marriage, without any detrimental effect on eventual spousal quality. A longer duration of employment translates to reductions in desired fertility. Further, there are strong spillover effects within the family, as age of marriage increases for younger sisters and school dropout rates decrease for younger brothers. I find evidence that an increase in female empowerment is a plausible channel for these effects.

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Presented in Session 169: Labor Markets in Comparative Perspective