Contrary to expectations from either human capital or gender empowerment perspectives, analyses across 409 Indian districts show that girls have relatively lower literacy compared to boys in areas where more women are in the labor force. The most likely explanation is that areas with higher women's labor force participation are also areas with higher girls' labor force participation; these higher rates of girls' labor depress their literacy and education. Gender inequalities in literacy are therefore an exception to the usual egalitarian impacts of women's labor force participation and remind us again of the multidimensionality of gender inequalities.
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