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Maternal Employment and Changes in Family Dynamics: The Social Context of Women's Work in Rural South India

Sonalde Desai and Devaki Jain
Population and Development Review
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 115-136
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137632
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137632
Page Count: 22
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Maternal Employment and Changes in Family Dynamics: The Social Context of Women's Work in Rural South India
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Abstract

Research on the relationship between maternal nondomestic work and child welfare has identified two mechanisms--a decline in mother's time with children and an increase in her control over resources--through which maternal work influences child welfare, the first in a negative direction, the second in a positive one. Results from a household survey in rural South India suggest a need for grounding this line of research in a wider institutional context. When pervasive poverty and lack of access to modern conveniences are taken into account, mothers who do not work in the market in fact devote much time to domestic activities. Regardless of the type of maternal employment, therefore, most children spend several hours per day in the care of older siblings or grandmothers. Thus, the concern that maternal employment exposes children to inferior forms of alternate care is misplaced.

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