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Bureaucracy and Inclusion: State-led Recruitment and Women's Employment in India

Can bureaucracies promote inclusive growth while solving market frictions? We theorize and evaluate the role of the state in supporting Indian women's labor force participation - an issue of great concern given low and declining rates of women's employment - through a program where bureaucrats recruited youth into job-linked vocational training. Leveraging arbitrary variation in program eligibility, we show that state-led recruitment doubled women's enrollment and job take-up with no effect for men. Gender-specific impacts could reflect differential returns to information (the "information effect"), knowledge of preferences (the "embeddedness effect"), or the importance of government signals (the "legitimization effect"). To adjudicate these mechanisms, we conducted a randomized experiment varying the participation of the lowest-level, largely female bureaucrats. We find that these highly embedded bureaucrats do not drive our results, and the information effect appears to dominate. These findings highlight how the government can play a crucial role in supporting inclusive growth.

wp2051.pdf (1.86 MB)
Soledad Artiz Prillaman
Charity Troyer Moore
Publication Date
August, 2023