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A Pluralist Account of Labour Participation in India

  • Wendy Olsen

Labour force participation in India is found to respond to a plurality of causal mechanisms. Employment and unpaid labour are both measured using the 1999/2000 Indian National Sample Survey. Men`s labour-force participation stood at 85% and women`s at 35%. The overall rate of labour force participation among women had fallen since 1989. Regression reveals a U curve of female employment by education levels. Many women at the bottom of the U are doing extra-domestic work, so a detailed measurement of both domestic work and other unpaid work is provided. Women in the Muslim cultural group do more extra-domestic work (and are more likely to be `inactive`) than women in other cultural groups. Economic poverty causes employment to be more likely. We use retroduction to interpret the regressions of labour force participation. We provide a number of reasons which could explain both the work patterns and the housewifisation pattern.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-042.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-042
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  1. Bina Agarwal, 1997. "''Bargaining'' and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1-51.
  2. Wendy Olsen, 2006. "Pluralism, poverty and sharecropping: Cultivating open-mindedness in development studies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(7), pages 1130-1157.
  3. Ben Rogaly, 1997. "Embedded markets: Hired labour arrangements in west Bengal agriculture," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 209-223.
  4. Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Cleaning house : New perspectives on Households and Economic Development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 5-40, June.
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