Research Paper on Gender Inequality in the Workforce in India
India demonstrates significant economy growth that contrary to universal norms results in lower female labor force participation. The issue is a deep-rooted problem, which is aggravated by a wide range of factors, the major of which are social norms and insufficient level of training and information on job opportunities. Despite the presence of these constraints, the paper suggests that there is a scope of possible measures, which can be implemented by the government to overcome the problem and mitigate its consequences. It is recommended to create a publicly available system of a more effective job search by increasing the availability of information about job opportunities. The strategies provided in the paper will help strengthen the country’s economic growth and increase the living standard. Further study should focus on understanding how to ensure that Indian women are provided with complete information about suitable jobs and establish a regular collection of the latest labor market data.
Research Paper on Gender Inequality in the Workforce in India
Introduction and Thesis
Indian labor market demonstrates a unique situation that contradicts to generally observed trends and standards. Economic growth in this middle-income country, increase in education levels, and fertility decrease did not result in higher workforce equality (Fletcher, Pande, & Moore, 2017). Despite significant economy’s growth rates of 7%, female labor force participation (FLFP) demonstrated a declining trend and made India one of the worth countries in the world in terms of gender workforce inequality (Pande & Moore, 2015). Such a mismatch in the form of an inverse correlation between the economic growth and low FLFP is a puzzling issue making the topic of gender inequality in the workforce in India highly relevant. The report’s research questions investigate what are the main reasons for gender inequality in Indian labor force participation and what can be done to address the issues?
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Low female labor force participation in India is a neglected and deep-rooted problem, which is aggravated by a wide range of factors. Despite the presence of these constraints, the paper suggests that there is a scope of possible measures, which can be implemented by the government to overcome the problem and mitigate its consequences. As a result, the strategies provided in the paper, will help strengthen the country’s economic growth and increase the living standard.
Background of the Problem
Developing effective strategies and measures to eliminate the issue requires identification of the current trends and reasons that affect the unique situation prevailing in the Indian labor market. The male part of the population demonstrates a significantly higher involvement in the labor market, which is 96% compared to the female half of India with 27% (Klasen & Pieters, 2015). The unemployment rate is the highest among urban women in India, amounting to 6.56% compared to 2.92% among rural women (Fletcher at al., 2017). The unemployment rate among Indian men is significantly lower, 2.11% and 3.24% in rural and urban areas, respectively (Fletcher at al., 2017). 76% of women in urban areas report their primary activities as domestic work, compared with 67% in rural areas (Fletcher at al., 2017). Women working in the informal sectors are usually unskilled, poorly educated and more vulnerable, and are considered a cheap source of labor, representing the most marginal workers (Lama & Majumder, 2018). Approximately 95% of Indian women aged 25 years and older are married (Fletcher, Pande, & Moore, 2017). This fact directly affects labor force participation, leading to a decline of the rate.
The observed situation is the result of the influence of a wide spectrum of social and legal forces, which hinder female workforce participation. The survey results demonstrate that about 50% of educated women in rural India are willing to become a part of a labor market, which demonstrates that the problem’s roots are external (Kapsos, Silberman, & Bourmpala, 2014). The literature suggests that the most notable constraints are social norms, insufficient level of training and information on job opportunities, and a lack of access to part-time work.
The main constraints are the traditional Indian gender norms, which provide for isolation of women from communicating with outside men and restriction of mobility outside homes (Pande & Moore, 2015). The situation is aggravated in rural areas, where men usually do not allow their women to leave the village for training and subsequent employment (Pande & Moore, 2015). It is not profitable for job trainers to educate such women, since there is a high probability that they will refuse to be employed in the future due to the lack of permission from their husbands (Pande & Moore, 2015). In the urban environment, the situation with the remoteness of jobs is simpler, but women experience difficulties due to the convection of power among the male in organizations.
Important causes of the problem are the lack of information about opportunities to return to work after the birth of a child (Fletcher at al., 2017). Klasen and Pieters (2012) found that urban women participation in the labor force at lower levels of education is dictated by economic necessity, and there is a pull factor for highly educated women entering the labor force. The level of education of a spouse has a greater negative impact than a positive effect on raising the level of education of women (Fletcher at al., 2017). Statistics show a decrease in women’s participation in the labor market by 1 percentage point in response to each additional year of male studies (Fletcher at al., 2017). There is negative impact of the emergence of the middle class and the growth of household income on Indian female participation in the workforce.
The present section provides evidence from academic literature on the presence of possible measures, which can be implemented by the government to overcome the problem. Combined with restrictive social norms, lack of information can significantly reduce women’s involvement in the labor market (Fletcher at al., 2017). Research results demonstrate the need to expand women access to information on job availability and opportunities of return to work after the birth of a child. Studies show that information obtained through active hiring or family bonding can affect women’s work and family outcomes (Jensen, 2012). An example of the effectiveness of this method is data on active recruitment of women in the business process outsourcing sector, which increased FLFP in the labor market by 2.4% (Jensen, 2012).
As a next step, it is recommended to stimulate the introduction of programs to improve the level of professional education of women and overcome job mismatch. This method can be extremely effective, as statistics proves that women with vocational education have more chances to work than women without education (Fletcher at al., 2017). Business training increases the likelihood that women will borrow for self-employment (Field, Jayachandran, Pande, Mel, & Mckenzie, 2013). Research data demonstrates that visits to job recruiters in villages to provide information to young women have had a positive impact on their participation in the labor market and enrollment for vocational training (Fletcher at al., 2017). Young women aged 18 to 24 years from villages attended by a recruiter were 2.4% more likely to work outside the home than young women from villages without a recruiting presence (Jensen, 2012). Young women from villages with recruiters were 2.8% more likely to attend computer or English courses, 5% were more likely to go to school and improved their nutrition level (Jensen, 2012).
In rural areas, where travelling to work is difficult due to long distances and poor road quality, proximity to workplaces is an important constraint (Fletcher at al., 2017). Therefore, an important element of the strategy for increasing women’s involvement in the labor market will be improving infrastructure and improving the quality of public transport. Most investigations incorporate wages as a key driver of female work supply (Heckman & MaCurdy, 1980). The Sri Lankan precedent shows that business preparing in addition to money stipends were progressively viable in expanding the benefit of ladies claimed organizations (De Mel, McKenzie, & Woodruff, 2014).
Discriminatory policies in the form of legal barriers to women’s employment have a direct impact on the involvement of women in the labor market. It is necessary to eliminate or reduce such existing restrictions on working time or differences in qualifications. Gupta (2014) shows that the reduction of trade barriers in India has actually reduced women’s employment. Although studies do not prove that these effects are directly related to discriminatory policies, factory laws that prohibit women from working in certain shifts are a likely culprit (Fletcher at al., 2017). It is recommended to stimulate equality enhancing laws. Such an intense impact of margins on labor force participation can improve the results for self-employed women by increasing income or gains from self-employment.
One more measure stipulates implementation of quotas, stimulating the number of female leaders. Women in spheres with women leaders were 39–52% more likely to start entrepreneurial activities than women in areas without leaders (Fletcher at al., 2017). The number of man-days worked in the program was higher by 6% in areas where quotas were set (Fletcher at al., 2017). In India, in professional sectors, where there has been a dramatic expansion and where working conditions are clearly good, women have achieved very good results. One example is financial services where only one in 10 Indian companies is headed by women, but more than half of them work in the financial sector (Fletcher at al., 2017). Today, women are headed by leading state and private banks in India. Another example is the aviation sector of India, which from the very beginning has positioned itself as a profession friendly to women. Nowadays, almost 12% of India’s 5,100 pilots are women, against 3% globally (Pande & Moore, 2015).
It is important to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the country. A scope of researches centers around the job of female entrepreneurial movement in India. The authors Ghani, Kerr, and O’Connell (2012) conducted a detailed research of female business in India in the assembling and administrations segments. That paper finds that sufficient foundation and instruction levels anticipate higher female entry (Ghani at al., 2012). The data states that there are solid agglomeration impacts in both assembling and administrations segments. There are higher female possession among officeholder organizations inside an area industry pair predicts a more prominent offer of resulting business visionaries will be female (Ghani at al., 2012). Larger amounts of female pioneering action thusly have been related with more grounded financial development. Measurements demonstrate that the proportion of female to male laborers is directly associated with both development and expectations for everyday comforts (Das, Jain-Chandra, Kochhar, & Kumar, 2015). The listed measures and evidence of their effectiveness will allow the state and public organizations to develop a comprehensive strategy to solve the problem.
The study of relevant academic literature led to the conclusion that the problem of low involvement of the female population of India in the labor market can be mitigated by a number of measures and strategies. It is recommended to create a publicly available system of a more effective job search by increasing the availability of information about job opportunities. It is necessary to stimulate full employment for young and unmarried women and provide more opportunities for group training for women. The adoption of these programs will be stimulated by attracting industry investments, which will increase the level of wages and serve as a factor in attracting women to the workforce thus improving gender equality.
These promising areas require further study, which should focus on understanding how to ensure that Indian women are provided with complete information about suitable jobs. It is necessary to establish a regular collection of the latest labor market data and conduct surveys of the Indian population to identify further behavioral factors. More research is needed to better understand how women can get the maximum benefit from future government investment in education and training.
- Das, S., Jain-Chandra, S., Kochhar, K., & Kumar, N. (2015, March). Women workers in India: why so few among so many? IMF Working Paper. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1555.pdf
- De Mel, S., McKenzie, D., & Woodruff, C. (2014). Business training and female enterprise startup, growth, and dynamics: Experimental evidence from Sri Lanka. Journal of Development Economics, 106, 199–210.
- Field, E., S. Jayachandran, R. Pande, D. Mel, and D. Mckenzie (2013). Do traditional institutions constrain female entrepreneurship? A Field Experiment on Business Training in India. American Economic Review, 103(6), 2196–2226.
- Ghani, E., Kerr, W., & O’Connell, S. (2013). Promoting women’s economic participation in India. Economic Premise (107).
- Gupta, A. (2014). Effect of trade liberalization on gender inequality: The case of India.
- Heckman, J., & MaCurdy, T. (1980). A life cycle model of female labor supply. Review of Economic Studies, 47 (1), 47–74.
- Jensen, R. (2012). Do labor market opportunities affect young women’s work and family decisions? Experimental evidence from India. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(2), 753-792.
- Kapsos, S., Silberman, A., & Bourmpala, E. (2014). Why is female labour force participation declining so sharply in India? Technical report.
- Klasen, S., & Pieters, J. (2015). What explains the stagnation of female labor force participation in urban India? The World Bank Economic Review, 29(3), 449–478. doi:10.1093/wber/lhv003.
- Lama, S., & Majumder, B. R. (2018). Gender inequality in wage and employment in Indian labour market. Journal of Academic Research in Economics, 10(3), 482-500.
- Pande, R., & and Moore, C. T. (2015, August 23). Why aren’t India’s women working? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/24/opinion/why-arent-indias-women-working.html