Only 1 in 5 entrants to labour force a woman; female participation in India among lowest in Asia

Updated: November 20, 2019 10:31:43 AM

Just one out of five persons — in the 15-30 years age bracket — entering the labour force is expected to be a female in the five years ending 2023.

India’s female labour force participation rate ranks much lower than other Asian economies in 2019.
  • By- Aanchal Magazine

Just one out of five persons — in the 15-30 years age bracket — entering the labour force is expected to be a female in the five years ending 2023, when India’s labour market demography is projected to peak. According to an internal study conducted by the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), 7 crore additional individuals in the working-age (15-59 years) are expected to enter the labour force by 2023, of which 84.3 per cent or 5.9 crore will be in the age group 15-30 years.

While the NSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 had estimated female labour force participation rate for 15 years and above at 23.3 per cent, the comparative numbers of other countries highlight the labour market’s gender skew.

India’s female labour force participation rate ranks much lower than other Asian economies in 2019, including Vietnam (73 per cent), China (61 per cent), Singapore (60 per cent), Bangladesh (36 per cent), and is closer to the estimates in countries such as Lebanon (24 per cent), Pakistan (24 per cent), Libya (26 per cent), Tunisia (24 per cent) and Sudan (24 per cent), according to World Bank data.

Globally though, the data shows that the female labour force participation rate (for 15 years and above) has been declining slowly over the last decade, from 49.09 per cent in 2009 to 48.11 per cent in 2013 and to 47.66 per cent in 2019. What also draws attention is that the 20.1 per cent female labour force participation rate during 2019-23, as projected by NSDC, is higher than 16.4 per cent estimated in PLFS 2017-18 for the age group 15-29 years.

Behind many Asian economies

Female labour force participation rate has declined, and future projections point to a further skew. Compared with other Asian peers, India is far behind in the participation of women, an essential component for boosting the country’s growth.

The internal analysis of NSDC, the implementation agency for skills training in the country, has projected trends in the country’s labour market potential during 2019-23 based on PLFS for 2017-18, Crude Death Rates (CDR) at gender and region (rural/urban) level, and Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS), 2011-12 (68th round).

According to the NSDC projections, of the total youth entrants (aged 15-30 years) of 5.90 crore during these four years, half are expected to come from the 15-20 years age group. The number of expected entrants is projected to peak to 1.29 crore in 2023.

Experts said a major shift would happen in the youth population in the coming 10-15 years, something which is already being seen in the age group of 15-19 years. Many female candidates in the age group of 15-19 years may not be actively in the labour force, instead choosing to opt for higher education, and so, with the changing education pattern, female labour force participation rate should be watched closely for the 20-34 years age group, they said. The study has found that 52 per cent of the male entrants and 42.6 per cent of the female entrants in the 15-30 age bracket are projected to be in the age group of 15-20 years.

NSDC, which is a public-private-partnership working under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, is using this study’s projections to suitably modify its skills training modules going ahead.
Other key findings of the NSDC study show:

* Only six states — Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — are expected to account for 50 per cent (about 3 crore) of the new youth entrants (15-30 years) during 2019-23.

* Nearly 30 per cent of the youth entrants (15-30 years) are expected to be from three states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in each of the years during 2019-23.

* Overall, Uttar Pradesh is expected to see 78.94 lakh new youth entrants (15-30 years) in 2019-23. During the same period, 52.98 lakh youth entrants are expected to come from Maharashtra, and 50.32 lakh from Madhya Pradesh.

* In Uttar Pradesh, the top districts contributing to the youth entrants (15-30 years) during 2019-23 would include Sitapur, Budaun, Hardoi, Muzaffarnagar and Bareilly, while in Bihar, the highest number of youth entrants are expected to be from the districts of Patna, Siwan, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, Aurangabad and Bhojpur.

* Among female youth (15-30 years), the highest numbers of new entrants (28.5 lakh) are expected in the years 2021 and 2023 each, while among male youth, the highest number of new entrants (1 crore) is expected in 2023.

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