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


Do Public Works Programs Increase
Women’s Economic Empowerment?
Evidence from Rural India


Sonalde Desai 
University of Maryland
Senior Fellow, NCAER 



7th March, 2017 (Tuesday) at 3:00 PM

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

All are cordially invited

Although it is often argued that labor market discrimination, resulting in blocked employment opportunities and wage discrimination, reduces women’s economic empowerment, it has been difficult to examine this constraint rigorously. The enactment of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) of 2005 offers us a unique opportunity to examine the role of expanding opportunities on women’s economic empowerment. Using survey data collected before and after the enactment of this program, we examine changes in women’s participation in paid work and total earnings by using a difference-in-difference approach. The results suggest that women living in villages with a higher availability of MGNREGA work are more likely to participate in wage labor and have higher total wage incomes. These effects are absent for men, possibly because they have greater alternative opportunities.

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