The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women’s Status in India

Replication paper
Original publication: Quarterly Journal of Economics
Original researchers: Robert Jensen, Emily Oster
Replication researchers: Vegard Iversen, Richard Palmer-Jones
Current status: Completed Replication Study

The Original Study

With rapidly expanding access cable TV access, rural Indian households are being exposed to alternative and oftentimes more progressive social norms. This paper uses panel data to examine how cable TV access influences views on a number of social behaviors. In addition, the research also explores some research extensions pertaining to the relationship between household cable tv access and children’s educational enrollment.

The Replication

In the South Asian context female disadvantage is typically seen as an outcome of deeply engrained patriarchal cultures, reflected in kinship and other social practices. The literature on women’s empowerment in these settings emphasizes access to resources such as education, rights in land, waged employment, entrepreneurial opportunities, credit and so forth. In a paper running contrary to this received wisdom, Robert Jensen and Emily Oster suggest that what are usually understood to be rigid behavioral norms and attitudes may change rapidly once cable TV arrives in a village. Given the widespread view that even sophisticated correlational work is unlikely to throw sufficient light on the effects of the introduction of cable TV, we subject Jensen and Oster’s paper to pure and then to statistical and scientific replication.