Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Irrigation and Gender Bias


Satyendra Kumar Gupta

Jindal School of Government and Public Policy

Wednesday, 25th September 2019 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

This paper tests the hypothesis that the historical use of irrigation in agriculture has affected the gender division of labor and the evolution of gender bias. Irrigation raised the labor productivity of males relative to females, i.e. irrigated agriculture and brawn are complements. Females instead tended to perform more non-monetary domestic chores. We provide evidence using four data sets: (i) individual level data from multiple waves of the India Demographic and Household Survey, (ii) cross-country data, (iii) ethnographic data from pre-modern societies (Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, SCCS), and (iv) individual level survey data on children of immigrants from multiple waves of the European Social Survey. We establish a negative association between irrigation and female labor force participation. Moreover, where irrigation is more widespread female acceptance of domestic violence is higher. These results are robust to a host of controls variables, including ancestral plough use and contemporary economic and social factors.

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