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Women earn Rs 18 per hour in India, half of what men do, delay in marriage won't help increase earnings: Study

By Our Representative
A recent research paper, “The impact of women’s age at marriage on own and spousal labor market outcomes in India: causation or selection?” has said that even though women earn nearly half of what men earn, a delay in marriage, at least in India, has “no significant impact” on their earnings.
Published by the US-based Social Science Research Network’s (SSRN’s), India Human Development Survey Forum, the paper – which is based on a sample of 10,511 women in the labour market and 21,718 women, who are merely spouses – says that “the average hourly earnings of the women” is Rs 18.25, considering that “average annual wage earnings is Rs 24,000, average number of work days per year is 205.”
On the other hand, the paper, authored by Gaurav Dhamijay of the Shiv Nadar University and Punarjit Roychowdhury of the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, says, “The average hourly earnings of the working men (i.e., spouses of the women) is Rs 33.12, average annual wage earnings is Rs 66,900, average number of work days is 273 per year.”
The paper find that “the effect of a one year delay in women’s age at marriage on their hourly earnings is only 0.5%”, which suggests that “women’s age at marriage is not statistically significant”, indicating that “a delay in marriage of women by a year has no significant causal impact on their own labour market outcomes.”
Giving reason for the outcome, which they believe might be “puzzling” to policy makers, the paper says, “As it turns out, 72% women in our sample have completed at most primary education (i.e., five years of formal schooling) and more than 90% have completed only secondary schooling (i.e., 10 years of formal schooling).”
Thus, the paper states, “Although women in our sample might complete more formal schooling due to a delay in marriage by a year, this might not be sufficiently productive to get translated into better labour market outcomes since most women in our sample would still belong to the lower end of the education distribution.”
The authors say, “Our findings thus suggest that complementing policies that seek to delay marriages of women in developing countries with educational policies that would augment the quality of primary schooling is likely to be useful.”
They add, “If this could be achieved, even a delay in marriage by a year that might allow a woman to attain only one more year of primary schooling might be useful for her in the labour market.”
“Additionally”, the paper states, “Policymakers perhaps might also think of designing policies that would incentivize parents to delay their daughters’ marriages by such an extent that they are able to complete higher education (for e.g. complete college or finish 15 years of formal schooling).”
This, it says, would be necessary, because “a marriage-delay policy that would cause women to complete an extra year of education is unlikely to be meaningful in terms of getting translated into better labor market prospects for women who only complete primary or secondary schooling.”
Reasons behind failure to be useful in the labour market, say the authors, could be due to: (1) low quality of primary education in India, and/or (2) for labour market success, a threshold level of education might be necessary (for instance, completing college or vocational degree); below that, an extra year of schooling might not lead to better labor market outcomes.”

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