Date of Submission


Date of Award


Institute Name (Publisher)

Indian Statistical Institute

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Subject Name

Quantitative Economics


Economics and Planning Unit (EPU-Delhi)


Ramaswami, Bharat (EPU-Delhi; ISI)

Abstract (Summary of the Work)

The differences in labor market outcomes between males and females have been of interest to the economists for at least past half a century. Gender inequality in the labor market manifests itself in the form of wage and employment gaps between males and females. However, little is understood about why these inequalities emerge. There are taste based theories of discrimination, occupational exclusion and theories of statistical discrimination. In this thesis, we study gender disparities in the labor market of rural India. The main objective of this thesis is to further our understanding about the existing wage and employment disparities in the rural labor market of India and whether these disparities can be explained by the economic forces of labor supply and demand. A deeper understanding about functioning of the labor markets can throw light on the processes which result in emergence of these inequalities.It is well known that achieving gender equality is important for social and economic development of a country (World Bank 2012). Equality in labor market outcomes has been regarded as an important tool for female empowerment. The importance of female participation in the labor force is well-established in the literature. Participation in the labor market provides access to economic opportunities and a greater bargaining power to women in household decision making.This dissertation consists of three chapters. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of gender inequality in the labor market. Chapter 2 and chapter 3 look at the differences in daily wage rate received by males and females in the agricultural labor market. Gender wage gaps are known to be persistent and ubiquitous in nature. On an average, the daily wage rate received by a female laborer is 70 percent of daily wage rate of a male laborer, in the rural agriculture labor market of India. A large proportion of this wage gap is unexplained by the standard analysis of differences in human capital characteristics of males and females (Agrawal and Vanneman 2014). The second chapter is concerned with the spatial variation in the gender wage gap in Indian agriculture and aims to understand the significance of other economic forces in shaping gender wage inequality. Chapter 3 looks at over time responsiveness of gender wage gap in Indian agriculture to aggregate shocks in the labor market like rainfall variability.The fourth chapter of the thesis looks at gender disparity in employment rates in rural India. Gender inequality on this dimension is greater with an overall employment rate of females at 40 percent and that of males at 85 percent in the working age. Moreover, there has been a consistent decline in participation rates by females in the last three decades. This chapter provides a theoretical framework to analyze the effect of female education on female labor supply and empirically examines if increase in female education plays any role in explaining the decline in female labor market participation rates in India.The sections below contain an overview of each of the three essays in this thesis. I describe the motivation, methodology and the main findings for each essay and discuss them in detail in chapters that follow.


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