(Bloomberg) -- Women in India are far more likely to seek formal employment if their mother-in-law has a job, a study has found. 

In urban households where the mother-in-law is employed, daughters-in-law are 70% more likely to be employed, and 50% more likely in rural areas, according to the State of Working India 2023 report by Azim Premji University released this week. 

Mothers-in-law are often feared or revered by younger Indian women, who traditionally move into the groom’s family after marriage. Gender norms, amplified by strong intergenerational effect, play a crucial role in the lives of Indian women that could make up half of the labor pool. 

The report also found that the pandemic has pushed more women into self employment. Before Covid, 50% of women were self-employed. That has risen to 60%, resulting in a decline in real earnings. 

The workforce participation rate for women in India is rising, “but not for the right reasons,” wrote the authors, led by Associate Professor Amit Basole. “Even two years after the 2020 lockdown, self-employment earnings were only 85% of what they were in the April-June 2019 quarter,” the report said.

Indian women suffered disproportionately in terms of jobs losses and wages during the pandemic. 

--With assistance from Vrishti Beniwal.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.