Creation of decent employment opportunities is a key challenge for policymakers in a country like India passing through a youth bulge phase in its demographic transition. Given its extensive backward and forward linkages, the manufacturing sector creates more indirect jobs par unit of investment compared to any other productive sector. Under this theme, ISID’s work explores the employment creation potential of different industrial sectors and other aspects of labour markets.

As India seeks to catch up with industrialization, the key question is about the job-creating potential of manufacturing sectors -including direct and indirect jobs- and their skill profiles. In an open economy context, it is also important to examine the employment and skill effects of exports and imports. However, this analysis requires the availability of updated Input-Output Tables for the country. This project seeks to undertake, in collaboration with the NITI Aayog and the MoSPI, preparation of updated Input-Output Tables of India to determine the direct and indirect job-creating potential of different manufacturing activities and trade and map the skill profiles that would be needed.

Research Team: Dr Anjali Tandon and Mr Ashish Kumar

Status: [Proposal Stage]; time frame: 12 months.

A recent ISID study finding declining employment intensity across sectors of the economy also notes the declining income shares of labour. However, the income impact could vary across worker categories since the capital-skill complementarity is likely to benefit the relatively skilled workers and hence may lead to unequal gains across different worker categories. The wage-productivity relationship could also be more significant in select industries, thereby preventing the convergence of wage rates across sectors, even for a given category of worker. These inter-industry wage rate differentials reflect in lower worker mobility across industries. Against the backdrop of restricted inter-industry worker movements, we try to estimate industry-level wage rates, further examine the trends therein, and the (possible) convergence in wage rates for different worker categories in both unorganized and organized manufacturing. The study covers a time horizon of 15 years ranging from 2000 to 2015 using the quinquennial rounds from NSS and the corresponding year data from the ASI for unorganized and organized manufacturing, respectively.

Research Team: Dr Anjali Tandon

Status: [Proposal Stage]; time frame: 12 months.

Until around a decade and a half ago, the organized manufacturing sector in India has been mostly stagnant in terms of employment creation. This is well documented in literature as decades of “job-less growth” with employment elasticities close to zero. Thus, the manufacturing sector in India has not been able to foster employment to the extent required or desired. However, evidence from the Annual Survey of Industries reveals that the pattern of employment growth from the mid-2000s onwards has been very different from the pattern observed during the 1980s and 1990s. The organized component of manufacturing has been increasing sharply even as the share of the unorganized sector employment has shrunk. As a result, the share of the organized sector in total manufacturing employment, which was at around 19.5 percent in 2005-06 had shot up to 27.6 percent by 2015-16. This study examines this new phenomenon in the organized manufacturing sector, with the elasticity of employment with respect to output turning more than 0.5 for many of the 55 3-digit sectors under study. The study categorizes the 55 3-digit sectors under study by various categories: technology-use intensity, labour intensity, and firm size classification to comment upon the loci of new employment generation and its relations to factor intensities and wage growth.

Research Team: Dr Sangeeta Ghosh

Status: [Ongoing], started in 2021-22; time frame: 12 months

The research is aimed at enquiring into the complex dynamics of the news media industry in India from various perspectives, including the state of media, its sociology, ownership and control, and the wages and working conditions of working journalists in the Indian news media industry. The passing of four labour codes in 2019–20 by subsuming over 40 central and state labour acts including the two Acts concerning the working journalists’ wages and working conditions has attracted widespread dissension both from professional associations and most of the trade unions. The research study has also looked into the implications of the new labour codes for the news media workforce. The codes are yet to be operationalised. The highlight of this study has been the organisation of a national webinar in January 2021, inviting various stakeholders, including the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour as the keynote speaker. The webinar has enriched the study as various perspectives were deliberated upon coming as they did from among policymakers, lawmakers, academics, media professionals, trade unionists, among others. Prof Jaishri Jethwaney was the principal researcher.

Funding: ICSSR Senior Fellowship
Status: [Completed], project report submitted to ICSSR in 2021-22

Falling employment opportunities for women, especially in rural areas, continues to remain as a conundrum for the Indian economy, in a period when the economy is witnessing accelerated economic growth, rising education levels among women, and falling fertility rates. Recent evidence from national statistics indicates that there has been huge decline in female labour force participation rates in rural India. A large amount of literature has also examined recent trends in rural female labour force participation, mostly based on secondary data. In contrast, this study based on secondary data and primary survey (household information gathered from 450 households in nine villages chosen from three districts of Odisha) revisited various aspects of women’s work and the phenomenon of declining female labour force participation rate. The study explored various factors such as social, demographic, economic and cultural that are affecting the labour force participation rate of women in rural areas.

The study came out with many interesting results which have important policy implications. The analysis also opened up a rich research agenda, including further investigation of various issues regarding women’s work, who remain voiceless and confined to the marginal spaces of the formal and informal sectors of both the economy and the society. The study was supported by the S.R. Shankaran Chair National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), Hyderabad. The final report of the study was submitted in April 2017. Dr. Partha Pratim Sahu was the Principal Researcher.

Employment has found a place among the major objectives in the development agenda for India right from the initiation of development planning. During the initial two decades of planning, employment was seen both as a way to utilize labour for development and to prevent emergence of unemployment. Employment was seen as a corollary of economic growth. Economy, however, grew at a lower rate than envisaged and labour force grew at a higher rate than projected. An effort was, therefore, made in mid-1970s, to introduce an employment-orientation in the pattern of growth by laying special emphasis on employment intensive sectors. Also, special programmes of self-employment and short-term wage employment in public works were introduced.

With the availability of comprehensive data from the NSSO surveys, periodical assessment of the extent and trends of employment and unemployment became possible and was attempted in each of the Five Year Plan documents starting with the latter half of 1970s. But the fact that employment needs to be included as a concrete goal of development planning was, however, recognized in mid-1980s when employment targeting was included as part of the plan exercise. The exercise was reviewed over the next decade.

Starting with the 1980’s, the Indian economy moved to a higher growth path and the trend was further strengthened with the introduction of economic reforms in 1991. It was higher growth that was, by and large, to be relied upon for achieving the employment objective. However, the experience of the 1990’s belied all expectations. A renewed urgency to bring employment back into focus formed the basis of a new approach to employment in the Tenth Plan (2002-2007). By the middle of the first decade of the new millennium it seemed that expectations regarding growth of employment were more or less fulfilled and that employment may not pose such a great challenge. However, the prospects of employment generation seem to have been overestimated as they were based on elasticities observed in recent past which were suspected to reflect a rather ‘spurious’ growth of employment.

Further, the outcomes of planner’s efforts to incorporate employment in growth strategy have largely been disappointing in the Indian case. Though employment growth has taken place, it is of poor quality in terms of productivity and income. As a result, employment growth has not always been accompanied by corresponding decline in incidence of poverty. It is in the above context that the study attempts:

  • A critical analysis of the approaches to employment in Indian Five Year Plans with a view to examine how far the idea of mainstreaming employment in growth strategy was followed;
  • An account and assessment of macro-economic and sectoral policies and special employment programmes in terms of their impact on employment;
  • A comprehensive account of the growth of employment over the last four decades in sectors, sub sectors and rural-urban location;
  • An analysis of the dynamics of qualitative and structural dimensions of employment in terms of sectoral composition, and employment status categories and organised-unorganised segments; and,
  • Development of a framework for an employment-oriented growth strategy and policy interventions required for it.

The report was prepared and submitted to ICSSR under the National Fellowship Programme by Prof. T.S. Papola in July 2013.

  • Labour and Capital Use in Indian Manufacturing: Structural Aspects,, Anjali Tandon, November 2023, Anjali Tandon, November 2023
  • Internal Migration in India and the Impact of Uneven Regional Development & Demographic Transition Across States: A Study for Evidence Based Policy Recommendation, Ravi Srivastava, Kunal Kesari, Kirti Gaur, Balakrishna Padhi and Ajit Kumar Jha, Institute for Human Development, New Delhi,, , March 2020, March 2020
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  • High Non-wage Employment in India: Revisiting the Paradox in Capitalist Development, Satyaki Roy, Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Vol. 54, No. 2, Pp. 251–267, January 2011
  • Livelihoods in Agriculture: States, Policies and Prospects, T S Papola, in Sankar Datta and Vipin Sharma (Eds) State of India’s Livelihoods Report 2010: The 4P Reports, Sage Publications, New Delhi, November 2010
  • Labour in a Globalised World: Issue of Employment, Labour Standards and Social Protection, T S Papola, in Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Surjit Singh, and Jaswinder Singh Brar (Eds) Globalisation and Change, Perspectives from Punjab: Essays in Honour of Professor S S Gill, Rawat Publications, pp. 71–86, January 2010
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  • Structural Change in Employment in India Since 1980s: How Lewisian Is It?, Satyaki Roy, Social Scientist, Vol. 36, No. 11-12, November–December, pp. 47–68, November 2008
  • Employment and Labour Market: The Myth of Rigidity, Satyaki Roy, Alternative Economic Survey India 2007–2008: Decline of the Developmental State, Daanish Books, Delhi, October 2008
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