How does caste matter in understanding gender inequality in India?
This paper examines the relationship between caste and gender inequality in three states in India. When households are grouped using conventional, government-defined categories of caste the paper finds patterns that are consistent with existing literature: lower-caste women are more likely to participate in the labor market, have greater decision-making autonomy within their households, and experience greater freedom of movement. When households are grouped by the narrower sub-caste categories of jati, where caste is lived and experienced, the paper finds the relationships to be far more varied and nuanced. These results suggest that focussing on broad caste categories such as “scheduled castes” and “scheduled tribes” can be misleading for understanding the relationship between caste and gender, and for targeting anti-poverty programs.