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Gender and Time Use in a Global Context: The Economics of Employment and Unpaid Labor


Rates of permanent economic migration by women into urban India have been low and falling, in contrast to other parts of the world where urban capital has drawn upon young, single women as a reserve army of labor. In this paper I use NSS surveys from 1983 to 2008 to investigate the socio-economic correlates of economic, follower and marriage migration by women to urban India. The results indicate that low urban female economic migration rates are not a statistical aberration due to incorrectly designed survey methodology and that a lack of supply of “good” jobs may be reinforcing male breadwinner norms. I argue that both falling economic and rising marriage migration rates for urban Indian women appear to be a result of urban economic inequality and insecurity. This data suggests that it is not the state-market tussle (that economists tend to be preoccupied with) but rather the interaction between family and market, and the continuing resilience of the patriarchal family in that struggle, that is the most remarkable feature of the Indian social and economic landscape.




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