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This paper discusses the school, work and marriage trajectories of young people in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India. It draws on Young Lives qualitative longitudinal data gathered from 23 young people and their parents, as well as descriptive survey statistics. A case study approach was used to analyse a selection of young people’s narratives, exploring the intersecting factors at individual, household and community level that explain their trajectories over time. Early disadvantages resulting from poverty, family death, debt or illness play a key role in determining these trajectories, while gender norms influence the different opportunities and social risks that girls and boys are exposed to and the roles and responsibilities they are expected to fulfil. Most notably, poverty emerged as a key influencing factor, often irrespective of gender, on young people’s trajectories. Moreover, it was when families were most financially insecure that gender norms became most salient and differences between girls’ and boys’ trajectories most distinct. Though gender roles can be set from a young age, it was not until adolescence that the most substantial differences began to appear, with poorer girls more likely to experience early school exit and transition to marriage, while poorer boys became increasingly responsible for providing financially for their families. The data presented in this paper suggest that gendered differences in girls’ and boys’ trajectories through education, work and marriage still exist despite the implementation of a number of state programmes and efforts to address these gaps, with differences emerging most conspicuously at the point at which poverty and gendered social norms intersect.




Young Lives

Publication Date



Gendered Trajectories, India