Despite income growth, fertility decline, and educational expansion, female labour force participation in rural India dropped precipitously over the last decade. Nation-wide individual-level data allow us to explore if random reservation of village leadership for females affected women’s access to job opportunities, their demand for participation in the labour force, and income as well as intra-household bargaining in the short-and medium term. Gender reservation of local leadership affected female but not male participation in public works and regular labour markets, their income, and their influence on key household decisions with a lag, suggesting that such reservation affected social norms and stereotypes.
The ancient custom of dowry, i.e., bride-to-groom marriage payments, remains ubiquitous in many contemporary societies. Using data from 1986–2007, this paper examines whether dowry impacts intertemporal resource allocation and other household decisions in rural India. Utilizing variation in firstborn gender and dowry amounts across marriage markets, we find that the prospect of higher dowry payments at the time of a daughter’s marriage leads parents to save more in advance. The higher savings are primarily financed through increased paternal labor supply. This implies that people are farsighted; they work and save more today with payoff in the distant future.