Does Inheritance Law Reform Improve Women's Access to Capital? Evidence from Urban India

This paper explores the impacts of the amendment to the 1956 Hindu Succession Act on Hindu females’ intergenerational transfers of physical and human capital. Information on the timing of three generations’ key life events helps isolate the causal effects. Our primary estimation strategy is a difference-indifference estimator in which we compare the share of total assets received by male and female siblings in the same household between households whose heads died before and after the amendment. In the case of human capital investment, we compare primary education attainment of young cohorts who were potentially benefit from the reform and the older cohorts who were unlikely to benefit from the reform. In light of the fact that the amendment applies only to Hindus but not to Muslims, we compare the results between Hindus and Muslims for a robustness check. The results suggest that the amendment increased the share of total physical assets received by Hindu females who were single before the reform by 0.216. They also point towards an increase in the share of gifts transferred to Hindu females by 0.147. Hindu girls gained 0.594 years of more primary education than boys relative to the old cohort after the amendment.



Klaus Deininger, Songqing Jin, Hari K. Nagarajan, Fang Xia
Jan 2012