Intra-Household Conflict and Female Labour Force Participation
Keywords:Social Structure, Nash Bargaining, Female Labour Force Particiaption
The low level of participation of women in the labour force has emerged as cause of concern from the perspective of gender equality and as an impediment to economic development, in India, over the past few decades. Our study provides a theoretical framework to understand how social structure influences women’s labour market choices. We consider household decision making in a two person household with a wife and a husband, and analyze decision making in non-patriarchal and patriarchal social structures. The patriarchal regime is characterized by men having control over women’s labour supply decisions and the non-patriarchal regime is characterized as being gender neutral. We find that the patriarchal social structure generates inefficiencies in the labour markets as women are prevented from joining the labour force even if they potentially earn more than their spouses. Adding more structure to the framework and introducing a sector which allows couples to purchase household help from the market, we see that the inefficiency of the patriarchal system persists. Further, the model provides an explanation for the empirical U-shaped labour supply curve of women with respect to their education level. Hence, the study highlights the need for policies that increase the bargaining power of women in patriarchal societies and the ambiguous effect of education on women’s labour force participation.