Kaivan Munshi from Brown University will be giving a seminar on Monday 11 October at 3.30 PM in Savery Hall 302. The title of his talk is "Women as Agents of Change: Female Incomes and Household Decisions in South India." The paper is joint work with Nancy Luke. Anybody wishing to talk to Munshi while he is here should contact Elaina Rose. The abstract of the paper is
This paper exploits a unique setting - tea estates in the south Indian High Range - to provide empirical support for the view that sustained economic empowerment can lead to social and economic change in even the most disadvantaged segments of society. Female workers earn substantially more than male workers on the tea estates, and these unusual gender patterns have been in place for multiple generations. In addition, low caste and high caste workers have the same incomes and access to the same facilities on the estates. We find that the low castes have higher schooling and are less likely to marry in the traditional fashion than the high castes, reversing the usual pattern that is found in the rest of South India. Looking within the household to better understand the detminants of these choices, we find that a relative increase in female income increases children's schooling and moves the family away from the traditional social patterns, most significantly among the low castes. Low caste women emerge as independent agents of change in this research setting, shifting their households from the traditional social patterns, most significantly among the low castes. Low caste women emerge as independent agents of change in this research setting, shifting their households from the traditional economy into the modern market economy.