Women’s inheritance rights and time use
Evidence from Hindu Succession Act in India
This paper examines the impact of the Hindu Succession Act on married women’s time use in India. The Hindu Succession Act was amended between 1976 and 2005 by giving equal inheritance rights to women for inheriting property.
To estimate the effect of the equal inheritance reform, I devise a difference-in-difference strategy by exploiting the features of the reform.
Using the nationally representative Time Use Survey 2019, I find that women exposed to the reform are investing 46 minutes per day more in employment. Moreover, women exposed to the reform are spending 44 minutes per day less time on home production, with no change in their leisure time.
By looking at the individual components of home production, I find that the reduction in home production is driven on account of a decline in time spent on domestic chores, with no change in childcare work. In addition, I find that women exposed to reform devote slightly more time to learning.
This implies that the reform has led women to substitute their time from home production to market work. These findings are consistent with an increase in women’s autonomy effect.
I also find evidence of intra-household substitution of home production work for exposed women through sharing the burden of home production by other household members, especially the male members.
This suggests that inheritance reform could be a form of reversal of the devaluing of women’s domestic and reproductive labour.