Managing the Double Burden: Pregnancy and Labor-Intensive Time Use in Rural China, Mexico, and Tanzania

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Abstract

Labor-intensive work is often a way of life for women living in rural areas of developing countries. The physical exertion involved in such work may result in poor health outcomes for mothers and infants when continued through pregnancy. Using longitudinal data from China, Mexico, and Tanzania, we examine the relationship between pregnancy and four time-use outcomes, measured as hours spent in the past week on: (1) housework, (2) caregiving, (3) agricultural work, and (4) self-employment or nonagricultural work outside the home. An individual fixed-effects approach is adopted to overcome the potential time-invariant woman-level endogeneity of pregnancy status. With few exceptions, we do not find significantly different time-use patterns between pregnant and nonpregnant women. The assumption that women decrease labor-intensive work in developing countries during pregnancy needs revisiting and may have implications for both women's livelihood programming and assistance during childbearing periods.

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