Ashwini Deshpande on choice, constraints and cultural norms

WIDER Seminar Series

Ashwini Deshpande on choice, constraints and cultural norms: understanding factors underlying women's labour force participation in India

Ashwini Deshpande will present at the WIDER Seminar Series on 20 February 2019. 

Abstract – Choice, Constraints and Cultural Norms: Understanding Factors Underlying Women's Labour Force Participation in India

This paper seeks to understand factors that aid/impede female labour force participation in India. We try to disentangle various intertwined factors to understand if (non)participation in economic activity is the result of women's choice, or due to constraints imposed by social and household level factors, and/or the unmet demand for work due to the lack of suitable jobs.  

We argue that the focus of analysis of low labour force participation of Indian women needs to turn its attention to labour demand constraints (lack of jobs), as well as specific labour supply constraints such as the burden of housework or domestic chores, and move away from the current conventional wisdom that focuses almost exclusively on labour supply constraints arising on account of childcare compulsions and religious/social conservatism. 

About the speaker

Ashwini Deshpande is Professor of Economics at Ashoka University, India. Her Ph.D. and early publications have been on the international debt crisis of the 1980s. Subsequently, she has been working on the economics of discrimination and affirmative action, with a focus on caste and gender in India. She has published extensively in leading scholarly journals. She is the author of Grammar of Caste: economic discrimination in contemporary India, (2011); and Affirmative Action in India (2013). She is the editor of Boundaries of Clan and Color: Transnational Comparisons of Inter-Group Disparity (2003); Globalization and Development: A Handbook of New Perspectives (2007); Capital Without Borders: Challenges to Development (2010); and Global Economic Crisis and the Developing World (2012). She received the EXIM Bank award for outstanding dissertation (now called the IERA Award) in 1994, and the 2007 VKRV Rao Award for Indian economists under 45.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics. The weekly sessions held in Helsinki are open to local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others interested in development topics. Click here to learn more.

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