UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays in development economics on gender and tribes in India Maity, Bipasha


This thesis studies the situation of women and tribes in India through the roles of workfare programme, availability of public healthcare and history. The second chapter studies the effect of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGA) on consumption expenditure and time-use, especially on account of women's participation. Using instrumental variables estimation strategy to deal with the endogeneity in the number of days worked, we find that women's participation benefits children, especially girls. Higher spending on nutritious foods, education of girls, lower engagement of women in domestic chores and greater time spent in school for younger girls are found on account of the programme. The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the two most disadvantaged social groups in India. The third chapter investigates whether STs lag behind even the SCs in terms of health, a key development indicator which has also remained relatively understudied in the literature. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method shows that relative to the lack of demand for healthcare from the STs, shortage of supply of health services in tribal areas appears to be more important in explaining why STs lag behind even the SCs in nearly all aspects of women's and children's health. The chapter argues that STs need to be studied in isolation from the SCs because of different historical reasons for the underdevelopment of these two groups. The fourth chapter studies the long term implications of historical female property rights on current development outcomes. Historic patterns of widowhood for women is a plausible mechanism through which women became owners of property. Districts with greater relative female landownership in the past are found to have lower infant mortality, higher literacy rate, better healthcare for and higher labour force participation of women, greater reporting of and arrests for crimes committed against women and higher women's autonomy. Greater political representation of women, investment in public goods and greater economic role played by women in agriculture appear to be possible mechanisms that could explain how female property rights during colonial time can have long-term effects.

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