Migration Patterns

Changes in India’s Rural Labour Market in the 2000s: Evidence from the Census of India and the National Sample Survey

Author : Jayan Jose Thomas, M. P. Jayesh | 2016
Published By: Indian Institute of Technology

This paper examines changes in India’s rural labour market after 1991, but mainly in the 2000s, using evidence from the Census and the National Sample Survey (NSS). The Census data show a large decline in the size of main cultivators and an increase in the size of marginal agricultural labourers in the two decades after 1991. These changes were more marked in the eastern, northern, and central- eastern States, than in the western and southern States of the country. The combined size of cultivators and agricultural labourers increased between 2001 and 2011, according to the Census. On the other hand, the NSS registered a decline in the size of the agricultural work force and an increase in rural construction jobs after the mid-2000s. The discrepancies between these two data sources are particularly striking in some States, including Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The findings of this paper suggest that a structural transformation of the work force away from agriculture is yet to begin in many parts of rural India, and that the optimism generated by the NSS data on this count is perhaps unwarranted. At the same time, the paper highlights some of the problems with India’s employment statistics, especially with regard to measuring the short-term migration of workers.

URL : http://www.ras.org.in/changes_in_indias_rural_labour_market_in_the_2000s

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