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Land Tenure and Missing Women: Evidence from North India

Apoorva Lal

No 6vdf7, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: 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.

Date: 2019-03-15
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev
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DOI: 10.31219/

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