Indian Women’s Education Rates Are Rising, Fertility Falling, But A Marriage Penalty Keeps Them From Working

By Kavitha Iyer
February 8, 2023

Every country in the G-20 that India has taken the presidency of has a higher rate of women’s participation in the labour force. But why should Indian women go to work?

Many reports talk about how talent is misallocated when women don’t work especially as education gaps between men and women close.  But the simplest answer one can give to why women should be able to work is simply that women want to work. 

As a democracy, given that surveys of women show they want to work, then we owe it to them to give them full access to the labour market. Certainly that will also be something that's good for growth, but I think rather than thinking about those instrumental reasons for why women should work, we should start with the fact that in survey after survey, what we see is young women, married women, with different preferences on where they want to work or how much, all state that they want to work.