ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uncertainty and Investment in Gender

Perception and Prejudice

This paper presents a theoretical framework to analyse the impact of information and the epistemic reliability attached to this information, on the investment choices made by households when allocating scarce resources within the family. Excess female mortality in India has been attributed to the poor economic returns women generate in the labour market, as well as certain inherent cultural and religious beliefs, which prejudice female survival chances greater than those of males. The authors argue that it is this cultural and religious fabric in India that influences the way in which uncertainty about the outcome of investing in boys or girls is perceived. The result may be an over-reaction - in terms of investment - to positive information about male prospects, and vice versa, an under-reaction to positive information about female prospects, thereby exacerbating the survival differential between males and females. Policy-makers should not only increase the opportunities for females to contribute economically, but they should ensure that these policies are long-term in nature - and not politically motivated - and are well communicated.

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