I am a graduating senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. As an Indian immigrant myself, I have experienced life in a developing country and this experience has fueled my interest in economic development during my undergraduate studies and current research. In particular, I have focused on issues of gender in economic development policies. Economists find that countries that under-invest in their female population experience slower growth, indicating that investing in women is a win-win economic development strategy and one worth researching.
My research project investigates the relationship between educational attainment rates and female labor force participation in the Indian state of Kerala to see if educating females actually leads to work opportunities and greater economic freedom. To address this question, I have been working on an extensive literature review as well as a descriptive analysis of India Census data from 1990-2010 to conclude with a set of proposed hypotheses for future research. On a weekly basis, I research labor market factors in Kerala, India that affect the employment of women. I am currently looking into countries that exhibit better patterns of female education and labor force participation to use as comparison case studies and recently used the World Values Survey to evaluate this. This week, I found the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map useful to narrow down my research options as it uses two major dimensions of cross cultural variation to group the world.
This research project complements my long-term goals as I plan on pursuing a career in the international development community. It has exposed me to the greater conversation happening in this community as well as the different tools and metrics currently used to evaluate impact. In order to work on the policy side of this issue, it is critical to possess thorough knowledge of these factors and consequences that affect economic development. As I will most likely pursue a Master’s degree in a relevant field, this research project readies me for that next step as well. This research project has been a valuable experience that has shaped my career interests and personal goals.