In many developing countries, women frequently leave school, marry, and start having children at a young age. In India, nearly half of women now in their early twenties were married before the age of eighteen. Girls tend to drop out of school earlier than boys, and women are far less likely to work for pay or work outside of the home. These outcomes indicate low social and economic progress of women and may have consequences for poverty and well-being.
The availability of employment opportunities for women may play a role in influencing these outcomes. Parents may not invest as much in their daughters’ education as their sons’ if they anticipate fewer employment opportunities for educated women than men. Would parents change how they invest in their daughters and would young women’s aspirations change, if they learned that new, better job opportunities are available? When people learn about well-paying jobs for women, can this change decisions about young women continuing their education, entering the labor market, and delaying getting married and having children?
J-PAL affiliate Robert Jensen (University of California, Los Angeles) conducted a randomized evaluation in rural India to test the impact of spreading awareness about jobs for educated young women in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, and subsequently helping qualified women get BPO jobs by offering free recruiting services. The purpose of the evaluation was to test whether increased employment opportunities for women can affect lifecycle work and family transitions, rather than whether recruiting services as a policy instrument (which do not actually create jobs) can help address these outcomes.