Missing school years for girls.

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The case of the Assam insurgency

Girls in India face many challenges. From the moment they are conceived, they are less likely to be born as compared to boys. This presence of "missing girls" appears to be linked to access to ultrasound technology. Moreover, girls also get breastfed for a shorter duration and get fewer childcare investments. Growing up, they are less likely to be educated than boys.

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These distortionary effects could be even greater during a period of large economic shocks--droughts or wars--however, the world wars have been responsible for an increase in women's economic participation. During World War I, there was a large substitution effect of female labor for male labor in the UK. In July 1917, it was estimated that 1.4 million women had taken men's positions. The New Statesman reported that women gained "confidence, independence, and interests in impersonal affairs." Academic literature has also been consistent with this story; Acemoglu, Autor, and Lyle (2004) found an increase in women's labor force participation in the US in response to World War II.

Among developing nations, Shemyakina (2011) showed that young women residing in conflict zones in Tajikistan were more likely to be employed compared to women in non-conflict regions, and Menon and Rodgers (2011) found that the Maoist-led insurgency led to an increase in women's employment in Nepal.

Among all states in India, the Planning Commission 2007 found the social status of women to be one of the poorest in Assam.

Consider the case of missing school years for girls in conflict-affected Assam, which has been mired in conflict since 1979, between the Bodos and Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. It has had to pay a heavy price for the protracted conflict--40.6 percent of children under five are malnourished and it has a per capita income of only $968 (making it the fourth poorest state in India).

The costs of conflict are different for men and women. Along with an uptick in violence by insurgents, there has also been an increase in domestic violence against women and North East Networks (NEN)--a local NGO--found that 83.7 percent of women were physically abused by family members, husbands, or employers. Among all states in India, the Planning Commission 2007 found the social status of women to be one of the poorest in Assam. Over time, the literacy gender gap narrowed for all Northeastern states except Assam, where it widened for both literacy...

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