Land Tenure and Missing Women: Evidence from North India
No 6vdf7, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science
This paper examines the effects of colonial era land tenure institutions on modern day demographic outcomes in villages in North India. I exploit the staggered annexation of the kingdom of Awadh in North India by the British East India company in 1803 and 1856 and as a source of exogenous variation in land-tenure (as classified in Banerjee and Iyer 2005) to evaluate the effects of different property-rights systems on modern-day outcomes using a spatial regression discontinuity design on the 2001 village level census. I find that villages where property rights were granted to the cultivators (mahalwari villages) have more skewed sex-ratios, lower female literacy, and lower female labour force participation rate than villages where property rights were granted to the landlord (zamindari villages). I hypothesise that the likely mechanism is that farmers who have property to pass on to future generations have a stronger preference for male children. These property rights may also grant the men more bargaining power in the household, thereby entrenching intra-household inequalities and manifesting in worse educational and labour market outcomes for women.
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