Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Population and employment
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1982
URL http://www.popline.org/node/402574
This discussion of population and employment in India reviews changes in participation rates at national and State levels, structure of employment at national and State levels, and unemployment at national and state levels. Between 1911-61 work force participation rates (WFPR) declined for males and females for India as a whole and for most States with the exception of Karnataka (Mysore) and Punjab where the female participation rates have recorded an increase. The decline in WFPRs reflects changes in the age structure of the population and a relative shift from rural to urban areas--both of which operated to lower participation. In addition, increased school enrollment and cultural factors influencing the attitudes towards female employment as well as the reporting of such employment may also have been important determinants of the decline in WFPRs. The analysis of changes in participation rates for the 1971-81 period is provisional because the full results of the 1981 census have not yet become available. The growth rate of the work force over the last decade suggests an acceleration in the growth of the work force after 1971 in the context of virtually unchanged population growth rates since 1961. Even if population growth slackens after 1981, the growth of the work force will not slacken for at least another 15-20 years. The Indian economy will have to contend with a working force growing at rates of 2.2% or more in the years to come. A comparison of the estimated 1981 work force with those provided for 1951, 1961, and 1971 indicates that the work force increased from 163 million in 1951 to 188 million in 1961, to 227 million in 1971, and to about 288 million in 1981. For States there are wide and inexplicable variations in reported participation rates even during the 1971-81 decade. The Indian economy has been characterized by a more or less static structure of employment by broad branch of activity. The measurement of unemployment in India has been a contentious area, and there is no unanimity concerning the concept to be used which would truly reflect the Indian situation. For the period before 1961 there are few usable estimates. The early National Sample Survey (NSS) estimates suggest a declining trend in open unemployment both in the rural and urban areas. In the case of rural males, the unemployed as a proportion of the population declined from 2.28% in the 11th to 12th round (1956-57) to 1.85% by the 15th round (1959-60), while for rural females this proportion declined from 2.21% to 1.97%. Estimates of unemployment at the State level are few and relate generally to the period after 1960. Unemployment among the more educated segments of the Indian labor force is generally believed to be high and increasing.

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