Gender and mechanization: Evidence from Indian agriculture
Technological change in production processes with gendered division of labor across tasks, such as agriculture, can have a differential impact on women's and men's labor. Using exogenous variation in the extent of loamy soil, which is more amenable to deep tillage than clayey soil and therefore more likely to see adoption of tractor-driven equipment for primary tilling, we show that mechanization led to significantly greater decline in women's than men's labor on Indian farms during 1999–2011. Reduced demand for labor in weeding, a task often undertaken by women, explains our findings. The estimates suggest that a 10% increase in mechanized tilling led to a 5% fall in women's farm labor use, with no accompanying increase in their non-farm sector employment. Our results highlight the gendered impact of technological change in contexts where there is task based gender division of labor with limited opportunities for women to diversify their workforce participation.