Indias Troubling Wage Disparities

CEIC India Data Talk: According to the Indian Labour Journal published by the government’s Labour Bureau of India, women in the agriculture sector continue to suffer lower wage rates relative to their male counterparts. The daily wage disparities have remained fairly constant over the years since 1999, though they did rise somewhat during the early 2000s. As of 2012, disparities in daily compensation between male and female workers have tended to be higher for more physically intensive activities (such as ploughing and well digging) where men may earn as much as 84% more than the INR 126.70 daily wages earned by their female counterparts for the same work (based on 2012 averages), while the disparities are substantially lower for transplanting and weeding (where men earn about 12% and 14% more respectively). Outside the agricultural sector, male unskilled workers can expect to receive on average 30-32% more than their female counterparts. Wage rates may vary significantly across different agricultural activities, generally depending on the intensity of physical exertion required. For example, daily average wages for men involved in well digging tend to be substantially higher than their female counterparts involved in herding (wage differences between these two activities were more than double as of April 2013). While entrenched traditional biases do play a significant role in explaining these disparities, the gap is further widened by unequal access to education. In part a product of gender discrimination, male-female student ratios tend to rise at higher levels of education. As of 2010, male-female ratios of students were 108.67% at primary school, 112.17% at middle school, 123.61% at secondary school, and 126.61% at higher education; Indias overall male-female population ratio stands at 106.35% based on the 2011 Census of India. The gender disparities in income are exacerbated by the inherently lower earnings of the rural populace relative to workers in the industrial sector. Despite earning substantially more than their female counterparts, wages for male workers engaged in agricultural activities pale in comparison to average wages earned by their counterparts in the industrial sector. According to the Annual Survey of Industries (also by the Labour Bureau of India) for the 2010 fiscal year (ending March 2010), the average wages per day worked across India by male industrial workers amounts to INR 240.38, nearly double the average daily wage of rural workers. Wages for unskilled labourers outside the agricultural sector similarly pale in comparison to the average wages earned in industries. During the 2010 fiscal year, male unskilled labourers took home an average daily wage rate of approximately INR 97.65; female unskilled labourers, by contrast, earned a corresponding daily wage rate of INR 74.50. However, rural workers who have taken up a trade outside the agricultural sector carpentry, masonry, among others have enjoyed a significant rise in daily wages earned. Based on 2012 averages, masons in rural areas earn an average daily wage of INR 270.44 while carpenters may take home INR 244.63. Discuss this post and many other topics in our LinkedIn Group (you must be a LinkedIn member to participate). Request a Free Trial Subscription. By Chan Yee Lui - CEIC Analyst Back to Blog
4th July 2013 Indias Troubling Wage Disparities