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

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Missing Labour or Consistent "De-Feminisation"?

"Missing labour force in India" - the recent fluctuations in the labour participation of women - is probably due to short-term shifts in activities responding to favourable economic conditions. Such fluctuations need to be placed in the context of a structural change in labour participation wherein the share of women in the labour force as well as labour participation rate of women has been declining for the last quarter of a century. Upward social mobility in Indian patriarchal society in the wake of growing incomes is probably symbolised by women's withdrawal from paid labour and their confinement to unpaid domestic activities. Even under such adverse conditions employment growth of women is not stagnant. Those who do enter and remain in the labour market are women from the most vulnerable households, as marginalised informal paid labour, thus feminising the most precarious forms of labour in the country.

Comments received on an earlier draft from Praveena Kodoth, A V Jose, Mridul Eapen, Devika J and Linda Koshy have been extremely benefi cial. The comments received during an open seminar at the Centre for Development Studies and from an anonymous referee were useful. I gratefully acknowledge them for their efforts. I alone am responsible for all views expressed.

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