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

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Explaining the U-curve Trend of Female Labour Force Participation in Bihar

Despite Bihar’s high economic growth rates over the past 15 years, its female labour force participation rate has declined, especially between 2004–05 and 2018–19, with a modest increase after 2018–19. This “U-curve” phenomenon of FLFPR in Bihar is examined using the National Sample Survey Office and Periodic Labour Force Survey data. Our findings suggest the role of both income and education effects between 2004–05 and 2018–19, followed by substitution effect after 2018–19. It is accordingly suggested that female students should be encouraged to pursue higher education to increase their participation in the labour market and policies should facilitate demand-side factors of the labour market for females in Bihar.

The author sincerely acknowledges the constructive and useful comments of the anonymous reviewer that enriched this paper. 

An outstanding aspect of Bihar’s labour market trends has been its declining female labour force participation. This is despite the state’s high economic growth over the last 15 years. This paper draws on the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 61st round (2004–05) and 68th round (2011–12), and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2020 data, which comprises information on the labour force. Data shows that both the female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) and the female workforce participation rate (FWFPR) declined between 2004–05 and 2018–19, with a slight increase between 2018–19 and 2019–20 in Bihar. The increasing FLFPR/FWFPR trend is also evident in the recent PLFS report, 2022 for urban Bihar.1

The FLFPR increased from 17.8% to 18.5% in urban India, and declined from 33.3% to 24.7% in rural India between 2004–05 and 2019–20. During the same period, the FLFPR in Bihar declined from 6.8% to 6.1% in urban areas, and from 13.8% to 6.4% in rural areas (Figure 1). Between 2004–05 and 2019–20, the FWFPR increased from 16.6% to 16.8% in urban India, whereas it declined from 32.7% to 24% in rural India. In Bihar, the FWFPR declined from 6.5% to 5.3% in urban areas and 13.8% to 6.4% in rural areas during the same time period (Figure 2, p 40). The FLFPR/FWFPR trend shows that the rural parts of Bihar have had a much larger decline than its urban counterparts. Here, it is possible that females frequently engage in activities that are either not measured or reported in labour statistics, such as household chores. However, the decline in FLFPR is a reality of Bihar’s labour market outcomes. In that, Bihar’s FLFPR trend demonstrated a U-shaped curve trend, with a decline between 2004–05 and 2018–2019, followed by an increasing tendency after 2018–19.

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Updated On : 1st Aug, 2023
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