Giving Indian women greater control over their wages encouraged them to enter the labor force and liberalized their beliefs about working women, according to a new study.
The study, by economists from the Yale University in Connecticut, US, on women from Madhya Pradesh showed that women who had access to the banking resources were more likely to report in surveys that a working woman made "a better wife" and that husbands with working wives were better spouses and providers. They also were less likely to say women who work outside the home bear social costs for it.
ALSO READ: The rise of women entrepreneurs in India
"Economics research often assumes that a country's men and women embrace the same cultural norms, but our study highlights the fact that norms can be differently experienced and held within the same country or culture," said Rohini Pande, Professor of Economics in Yale's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
"Improving a woman's access to her earnings should cause her to work less because she can make the same amount of money with less effort. That we found women work more suggests that some women would prefer to work but are potentially being constrained by social stigma perceived by their husbands — specifically, that working wives diminish their husband's social status," she added.
Women who work outside the home bear social costs for it.Wikimedia Commons
For the study, published in the American Economic Review, the team collaborated with the Madhya Pradesh government and banking partners to enable direct deposit of women's wages from the federal workfare program into their own bank accounts rather than into a male-controlled household account.
They conducted a randomized controlled trial covering 197 village clusters and surveyed a total of 4,300 women.
The study found an overall increase in labor supply among digitally empowered women compared to women who only received a bank account. They were 28 percent more likely to have participated in the workfare program during the past year than were the women who only received a bank account and 13 percent more likely to report any paid work in the previous month, according to the findings.
The participants were surveyed to measure their thoughts about working and non-working women. The results showed that, compared to women who received only bank accounts, digitally empowered women liberalized their personal beliefs about women's work. (IANS/KB)