Reproductive Work and Female Labor Force Participation in Rural India

Abstract

The current debate over female labor force participation in India has failed to sufficiently account for the reproductive work of women. Using NSS data on reproductive labor, we investigate the possibility that a “reproductive squeeze” raises the opportunity costs of labor force participation for women. A variety of multinomial logit regressions reveal a robust positive relationship between the shares of non-discretionary food and non-food expenditure and the likelihood of performing reproductive labor, relative to being in the labor force. We also find that an indicator of greater social provisioning by the state is positively correlated with rural women’s labor force participation, all else constant.

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