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Faculty of Economics

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Nancy, L. and Munshi, K.

Women as agents of change: female income and mobility in India

Journal of Development Economics

Abstract: Economic globalization will give many women in developing countries access to steady and relatively remunerative employment for the first time, potentially shifting bargaining power within their households and changing the choices that are made for their children. This paper exploits a unique setting — a group of tea plantations in South India where women are employed in permanent wage labor and where incomes do not vary by caste — to anticipate the impact of globalization on mobility across social groups in the future. The main result of the paper is that a relative increase in female income weakens the family's ties to the ancestral community and the traditional economy, but these mobility enhancing effects are obtained for certain historically disadvantaged castes alone. Although the paper provides a context-specific explanation for why the women from these castes emerge as agents of change, the first general implication of the analysis is that the incentive and the ability of women

JEL Codes: D13, J12, J24, O12

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Papers and Publications

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