India: Women, Work and Employment

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Since economic liberalization in the early 1990s, India has experienced high economic growth and made considerable progress in gender equality in areas such as primary education. However, it fared poorly on gender-parity in labor force participation (LFP). During the period between 1993-94 and 2011-12, female labor force participation rate (LFPR) remained consistently low as compared to male participation. More alarming is the fact that female participation rate declined steadily during the same period, particularly in rural areas. The low level along with declining trend in rural female LFP poses a serious threat of 'missing gender' in the labor force. Although economic growth added jobs for both men and women in India till 2005, Indian women lost jobs in the next seven years, while men continued to gain, thereby widening the gender gap. The actual figures in 2012 suggest that approximately 35 to 40 million women are 'missing' from the labor force, had female LFP grown at the same rate as it had between 1999 and 2005.1 This represents a troubling trend considering the potential of these women to contribute to the country's productivity. To better understand the existing situation, this report investigates gender and female labor force dynamics by drawing mostly on data from five rounds of the National Sample Survey, India, between 1993-94 and 2011-12. Key findings from the study are grouped below in three sections. First section describes the dynamics of female LFP looking at its evolution in previous two decades. The next section presents the drivers of low level of female participation and its declining trend. The last section proposes possible areas of action.

Document type: Working paper
Place of Publication: Washington, D.C.
Date: 2014
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 1 July 2015
Number of Pages: 92
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: Economics
Controlled Subjects: Indien, Frau, Arbeitsmarkt
Uncontrolled Keywords: Indien, Frauen, Beschäftigung, Arbeitsmarkt / India, Women, Employment, Labour Market
Subject (classification): Economics
Countries/Regions: India
Additional Information: © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO
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