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Royal Economic Society Conference 2022

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The Royal Economic Society’s annual conference hub event is being organized at Ashoka University on April 13, 2022.

Date: Wednesday, 13th April

Venue: AC04 304


13:30 to 14:00: Ashwini Deshpande, Ashoka University

Disentangling the debate around women’s paid work in India: demand vs. supply side issues related to women’s LFP in India.

14:00 to 14:45: Kanika Mahajan, Ashoka University

Words Matter: Gender, Jobs and Applicant Behavior.

Abstract: We examine employer preferences for hiring men vs women using approximately 160,000 job ads posted on an online job portal in India, linked with 6.45 million applications. We apply machine learning algorithms on text contained in job ads to predict an employer’s gender preference. We find that advertised wages are lowest in jobs where employers prefer women, even when this preference is implicitly retrieved through the text analysis, and that these jobs also attract a larger share of female applicants. We then systematically uncover what lies beneath these relationships by retrieving words that are predictive of an explicit gender preference, or gendered words, and assigning them to the categories of hard and soft-skills, personality traits, and flexibility. We find that skills related to female-gendered words have low returns but attract a higher share of female applicants while male-gendered words indicating decreased flexibility (e.g., frequent travel or unusual working hours) have high returns but result in a smaller share of female applicants. We find that this behavior contributes to a gender earnings gap at the application stage with gender requests accounting for 7% of the wage gap and gendered words accounting for 19% of the wage gap after accounting for differential application behavior across occupations by men and women.

Speaker’s Bio: Kanika Mahajan is Assistant Professor of Economics at Ashoka University. Her primary research interests include empirical development economics in the field of gender, labor and agriculture. Currently, she is working on issues around stagnation of women’s labor supply in urban India, decline in female employment in rural areas – exploring the structural linkages between female employment and agriculture technology, violence against women and women’s political representation.

14:45 to 15:30: Deepshikha Batheja, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy

Effect of Co-residence with Parents-in-law on Female Labor Force Participation in India.

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of co-residence with mother-in-law and father-in-law on women’s labor force participation. We study this in the Indian context where patrilocality is common and women have limited decision-making autonomy, especially with a parent-in-law present in the household. On the other hand, for women with young children, having a mother-in-law or father-in-law living with them could have positive returns on labor supply because of the provision of childcare. We use two rounds of IHDS panel data for the analysis taking the death of the parent-in-law as the exogenous source of variation. Our results show that co-residence with father-in-law has a significantly negative effect on women’s labor supply. Depending on the specification, losing one’s father- in-law increases the labor force participation of women by approximately 9 to 12 percentage points, compared to a similar household where the father-in-law still co-resides in the second round. There is some effect for the loss of a working mother-in-law on the woman’s LFP, providing evidence to the added worker effect in the household.

Speaker’s Bio: Deepshikha Batheja is a Postdoctoral Fellow based at Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), New Delhi. She has received her doctorate degree in economics from the University of California, Riverside. Her research focus is focused on applied empirical microeconomics questions in development and labor economics. A key thread in her research has been the impact of gender on economic outcomes. Her current research also studies the determinants of labor force participation and worker productivity, especially in developing countries. She has designed and conducted RCTs to study the impact of gender diversity in the workplace on employee productivity in Indian call centers and impact of certification on employability of engineering students in India.

16:00 to 16:45: Aparajita Dasgupta, Ashoka University

Are gender norms systematic to caste institutions? Examining preferences through a social experiment in North Indian villages. (In collaboration with Ashokankur Datta)

Abstract: In this paper we examine how traditional institutions like caste interact with socio-economic status to mediate the perception of gender roles and attitudes around female labor force participation. We use third party vignettes to directly test the validity of the hypothesis that lower castes have more egalitarian gender norms and lower acceptance of restrictions on female autonomy. We find that the relationship between conservative gender norms and caste are in turn influenced by the class status of households, measured by land or asset ownership. Interestingly, for some caste groups, the impact of land ownership on gender norms is distinct from the impact of ownership of non-land assets. Lastly, we conduct a simple social experiment to test for ‘pluralistic ignorance’ and confirm systematic overestimation of conservative attitudes that varies by caste and class identities.

Speaker’s Bio: Aparajita Dasgupta is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ashoka University. She is an applied micro economist by training and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from University of California, Riverside. Her research interests are in the area of development economics, health economics and public policy. She has published in Economic Development and Cultural Change, Oxford Economic Papers, Review of Development Economics, IZA Journal of Development and Migration.

16:45 to 17:30: Nicholas Li, Ryerson University (Online)

Women’s Work in India: Evidence from changes in time use between 1998 and 2019.

Abstract: I provide evidence on long-run changes in female work for six Indian states common to the 1998-99 and 2019 time-use surveys. Rural women experienced large decreases in work time (especially paid work) but urban women did not. Men experienced larger declines in paid work but partly compensated with greater self-employment. Changes in self-reported “usual work status” do not provide an accurate measure of these changes in work time. Declining work for rural women is observed regardless of self-reported work status, education level, caste/religious group, or state. Leisure time for women increased, reducing the gender-gap in leisure by 50%.

Speaker’s Bio: Professor Nicholas Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, He completed a Ph.D. in Economics from UC Berkeley. His research spans a number of topics in trade and development including food consumption, nutrition, market integration, agricultural production, child labour, and measurement issues and has been published in the American Economic Review, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of International Economics, and World Bank Development Review.

18:00 to 19:30: Professor Farzana Afridi, Indian Statistical Institute (Online)

Hub keynote: Women, Work and the Role of Technology

Chair: Professor Ashwini Deshpande, CEDA and Ashoka University

Abstract: Gendered division of labor both at home and in market production accompanies constraints on women’s access to labor market opportunities. To what extent can new technology enhance women’s labor force participation and improve their welfare? Within the home, shifting households towards more efficient home production technology reduces women’s time spent on domestic work, but only marginally; while agricultural mechanization lowers the demand for women’s labor on the farm without a concomitant improvement in their non-farm work opportunities. On the other hand, digital technology that matches workers to potential employers can lower women’s job search costs and increase job flexibility, enhancing their work opportunities. However, social norms that dictate women’s job preferences and constrain their mobility limits the potential of digital labor market platforms. These findings from India highlight the extant low market value of women’s time and the need for gendering the effects of technological change on the labor market.

Speaker’s Bio: Professor Farzana Afridi is a Professor in the Economics and Planning Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (Delhi), Lead Academic of the International Growth Centre’s (IGC) India program and Research Fellow at the IZA (Bonn). From July 2021, she is on leave as Senior Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Department of Economics. Her research interests lie at the intersection of development and labor economics and can be categorized into three broad themes: gender and social identity, human capital and governance. Until recently, she led multiple projects, supported by IWWAGE, that aim to analyze and suggest measures that can loosen the constraints women face in engaging in remunerative economic activities. She is associated with initiatives to build capacity towards research in economics in India – Society for Economics Research in India (SERI).

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