Women in Work Force – Part 3 (short update)

This is in continuation to the earlier posts which can be found here- Part 1 and Part 2.

One of the justifications advanced for women leaving the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. Let us analyze the past years data on Current Weekly Activity Status Approach (cws). According to the CWS approach, a person is considered as a worker if he/she has performed any economic activity for at least 1 hour on any day of the reference week. For details please refer this link.

As per the CWS Approach the number of women participants in the labour force have reduced by 20% from 2004 to 2012[i]

Female-LFPR- current weekly activity status

Male-LFPR-current weekly activity status

Do feel free to comment and hypothesize any other reason for this trend.


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Current Weekly Activity Status (cws) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

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Women in Work Force – Part 2

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I recently got a response to my article ‘Women in Work Force’, that women are leaving the work force because they need to take care of the children.

The justification seems logical but does not hold merit as –

  • Did women not have to take care of children in 2004? Were women not taking care of children earlier and therefore working and have recently realized over the past decade that they need to take care of children?
  • The proportion of children to the total population of India has reduced in the past decade, implying that lesser women-hours are to be spent on taking care of children now as compared to a decade earlier. Therefore logically their participation in the labour force should have increased as opposed to decreasing.

As per the census of India[i], the proportion of children in the age group 0-10 years has reduced from 26.5% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2011. This means, now more women should have free time as they donot have to take care of the children.

Another justification given for women going out of the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. If we analyse the labour force taking into account the subsidiary economic activity (ss) workers, even then number of women participants have reduced by 20%.[ii]

Female Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Male Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Hence, none of the justifications seem to be backed by facts.


[i] Census of India: 2011 and 2001

[ii] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Activity Status (ps) and Usual Subsidiary Economic Activity Status (ss) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

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Women in Work Force

Woman drinking coffee

The working population in India is typically classified as 15-59 years age group. As a general philosophy every able bodied person is liable for their own upkeep and maintenance. Which implies every able bodied man and woman should ideally work and contribute to the society. This is to ensure that free riders are not there and the economy prospers.

A very important element in the growth for the economy is the participation of women in the workforce. The Labour Force Participation Rate[i] for men and women in India are given below:

Labour Force Participation Rate of Women

Labour Force Participation rate for Men

From the above table we see that Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for women has reduced over the years as India is progressing towards development. Implying that more women choose to stay at home and not have an economic contribution. Such a trend should be a matter of concern for any society as free riders are like a parasite which is a non-mutual relationship where one party benefits at the cost of the other.

One of the reasons extended for women not working is that they take care of the household which should be considered as an economic activity. As per the NSO survey[ii], women spend about 2.1 hours cooking food and about 1.1 hours cleaning the house and utensils daily. In essence, women put in a total of 3.3 hours a day working within the house as compared to around 11 hours put in by their counterparts (ie. men). Hence, this justification also does not hold water.

One of the reasons for this disturbing trend of workforce participation of women reducing could be the lop-sided (biased) laws of India. All social and economic responsibilities are supposed to be shouldered by men and further there are no government programmes for their benefit. Let us take the example of maintenance, as per Section 125 of CrPC the liability for maintenance of wife, children and parents is only on men. No such liability is conferred on the women in India. If both men and women are considered equal then why such biased laws?

The effect of such laws is evident in the society with women becoming complacent and leaving the workforce. This has increased the parasitic tendencies and is a recipe for economic downturn.

What are your thoughts on this negative trend? Do feel free to comment…


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Status approach data (Urban + Rural). (Participation rate per 1,000)

[ii] National Statistical Organization: Men and Women in India, 2012 – 14th Issue, Para 33

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