Individual Paper: Female labour market participation in India
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the demographic transition that India has been going through, with falling fertility rates and death rates and a swelling up of the labour force as a consequence. While this demographic transition has the potential to reap dividends, it could also turn into a disaster lest the youth are productively employed. One of the major precursors to reaping a demographic dividend is the rise in female labour force participation rates that accompanies a fall in fertility rates. However, the Indian story of falling female labour force participation rates despite strong growth, rising wages and incomes and a decline in total fertility rates presents a puzzle that is contrary to what has been predicted by standard development theories and by the experience of other countries including China, Bangladesh etc. This historically low female labour force participation rate has been a major hindrance to the modernisation of the labour market and now this low rate is also falling. In such a scenario, it makes sense to talk of a gender-dividend along with a demographic dividend in India.
In this paper, I seek to establish the benefits that can potentially be reaped from increased female labour force participation in India and study the factors that potentially contribute to the falling participation rates. The factors considered to study the low FLFP rates are: economic development, the effect of unearned household incomes, the effect of increasing enrollments in secondary education, skill training, low female mobility across sector, a problem of measurement, employment opportunities and finally, other cultural and social factors. Secondary data from various NSS rounds will be used to identify significant trends and breakdown the causes of the declining FLFP rates. Finally, based on the primary factors identified, policy suggestions will be put forth with an understanding that evaluating and basing policies on solving gender-specific constraints is the need of the hour given the important role that female agency plays in economic development.
Start time: 11:15
Room: Moriskan (Bistron)
Track: Care, gender and feminism