ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Arup Mitra

Understanding Migration Behaviour in India from PLFS Data

Based on the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2020–21), this study focuses on the migration data and tries to delineate certain broad characteristics of the migrant population. Negating some of the commonly held views that less advantaged individuals migrate more frequently than their counterparts, significant departures are noted after the pandemic. Not just the casual labourers, even the regular wage earners suffered seriously during the pandemic and the lockdown. The sudden crisis and the severity of job loss, particularly in the urban areas, which forced many to shift to their native residences are the main reasons of their unwillingness to move out in the future from their current locations.

Livelihood Volatility in the Urban Labour Market

This paper aims at capturing the labour market volatility, which is conceptualised in terms of the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood across different quarters in a year. Though we were unable to identify the number of times workers change their jobs, the change in the job status, which cannot occur unless the job changes, unravels important findings as retrieved from the repeated survey of the same households over different quarters. The results bring out the vulnerabilities of the lower castes, illiterates, and those belonging to large households. The urban informal economy is indeed faced with income volatility, which is connected to employment instability.

Reliability of PLFS 2019–20 Data

The April–June (2020) quarterly data for the urban sector showed a massive decline in the workforce participation rate and a huge increase in the unemployment rate. Still, the annual average work participation rate rose sharply in 2019–20 compared to the earlier two rounds of the Periodic Labour Force Survey estimates, and the average unemployment rate declined somewhat. Given these patterns, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy data set, despite its own problems, seems to be casting a more realistic picture.

 

How Unstable Are the Sources of Livelihood?

This paper, based on the data from the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey, reflects on the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood and the phenomenon of multiple activities pursued simultaneously. A thorough analysis of the quarterly data suggests that in the rural areas, workers largely dependent on agriculture are compelled to shift to other activities in the off season. The nature of employment also varies, particularly in the urban areas. The occupational choice model estimated based on the quarterly data is indicative of changes in the marginal effect for workers of a given caste or an individual with a certain educational attainment. Certain social categories and workers with less educational attainments are more susceptible to changing probability of joining a particular activity and adopting multiple activities.

 

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Livelihood Loss

Significant variations in the rise in the unemployment rate across regions after the nationwide lockdown was enforced without any discrimination are noted. The reasons for such disparities are explored and migration is noted as an important factor. States with higher rates of migration and urbanisation, greater dependency on casual wage employment and non-agricultural employment witnessed hunger and an adverse impact on livelihood.

 

Rising Unemployment in India

The rise in the unemployment rate in the recent years along with its convergence across states could be an indicator of a positive change in the economy. Its association with educational attainments and urbanisation is testimony to the brighter side of the development story of India. Further, this rise, against the backdrop of the falling share of the informal sector employment, may suggest that the labour market participants can now afford to remain unemployed instead of getting residually absorbed in petty activities. However, this must not undermine the larger issue of employment creation, which has been a matter of great concern since long.