Effect of Co-Residence with Parents-in-Law on Female Labor Force Participation
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper studies the impact of co-residing with mother-in-law and father-in-law on woman’s labor force participation. I study this in the Indian context where patrilocality is common and women don’t have much decision-making autonomy especially in the presence of a parent-in-law in the household. On the other hand, for women with young children, having a mother or mother-in-law living nearby might have a positive effect on labor supply because the grandparents might help with childcare. Alternatively, it might have a negative effect on labor supply because the grandparents themselves may require care, and caregiving responsibilities often fall to daughters-in-law who co-reside with them. To ascertain which of these effects predominate requires empirical analysis.
For the study, I use two rounds (2005 & 2011-12) of the panel data from India Human Development Survey (IHDS). To take care of the unobserved differences, I take death of parent-in-law as the exogenous variation. The sample is restricted to those women who live/co-reside with both their mothers-in-law and father-in-law in the first period. Information on whether the mother-in-law and father-in-law are co-residing with the woman in the first round is obtained from the household roster. Change in FLFP is then studied using death of mother-in-law or father-in-law or both in the second round, as source of variation, taking co-residing with both in the two rounds as the comparison group.
My preliminary results show that co-residence with mother-in-law has a significantly positive effect on women’s labor supply. Losing one’s mother-in-law reduces the labor force participation of women by approximately 5 percentage points in urban areas compared to similar household where the mother-in-law still co-resides in the second round. I also find that death of father-in-law significantly increases woman's labor force participation, by around 11 percentage points.
The analysis has implications for policy as it suggests that policies that increase the availability of childcare to meet irregular or unanticipated child care needs, might substantially increase the labor supply of married women with young children.