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Time Use and Household Division of Labor in India—Within‐Gender Dynamics

Abhilasha Srivastava

Population and Development Review, 2020, vol. 46, issue 2, 249-285

Abstract: Household allocation of labor is an important area of scholarship in developing countries where women's well‐being is affected by the heavy load of unpaid work within the household. This study extends nuclear household‐centric research on labor allocation by drawing attention to bargaining between female in‐laws in multigenerational households in India. This paper empirically tests two competing theories based on the impact of a daughter‐in‐law's education on household division of labor in multigenerational households. First is Caldwell's thesis that contends that increasing education would increase the bargaining power of daughter‐in‐law, thereby tilting the distribution of household labor in her favor, and the second is patriarchal bargain theory that makes an opposite claim. Both these theories are tested using time‐use data, and the latter is found to have higher explanatory power. Further layers are added to the analysis by tracing the effects of caste, class, and religion. Findings show that these mediate and determine the division of housework and bargaining outcomes between female in‐laws. This study emphasizes the need for an intersectional understanding of gender norms that are inextricably tied to factors such as religion, caste, class, and family structure. Findings also underline the need to study within‐gender dynamics systematically.

Date: 2020
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