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Gender-Gap in Learning Outcomes under Rainfall Shocks: The Role of Gender Norms

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • November 17, 2021
  • Aparajita Dasgupta, Anahita Karandikar

There is mixed evidence in the literature on the effect of rainfall shocks on educational outcomes for children in rural areas, with a limited understanding of how the gender-gap in education evolves in the face of such a shock. We posit that the vulnerability to climatic shocks can vary by the gender institutions of the setting which can have a bearing on the gender-gap in educational outcomes. On one hand, a negative productivity shock can lead to a disproportionate reduction in human capital outcomes for girls, as investments for girls may be more sensitive to income constraints. On the other hand, as the opportunity cost of schooling goes down in the face of a negative shock, it can translate into gains in educational outcomes, which are higher for female children in areas that favour female labour force participation. Leveraging the variation in cropping patterns that guide norms around female labor force participation (FLFP) in rural India, we examine how exposure to contemporaneous and past rainfall shocks a effects learning outcomes for girls and boys. We find the widest gaps in outcomes in positive versus negative rainfall shock years for female children in regions that favour FLFP. We provide suggestive evidence that this is driven by increased participation in paid employment and full time domestic work during a positive rainfall shock.

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