Economic status of women in India: paradox of paid–unpaid work and poverty

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand the dynamics of women labor considering their unpaid work status. The intention is to understand the precise meaning of unpaid work and its magnitudes and trends in India. This study explores the causes of women to be engaged in unpaid work and the reason behind the non-reduction of unpaid labor as prophesied by the standard theories of economic development. Furthermore, this study aims to examine the nexus of the work status of women and its impact on poverty to give possible recommendations for promoting faster and more inclusive growth of the Indian economy. Design/methodology/approach For addressing the above-mentioned issues, this study has used the data of 50th, 55th, 61st and 68th surveys conducted from 1993–1994 to 2011–2012 by National Sample Survey Office. In the first stage of analysis, the magnitude of unpaid work by women has been estimated. Subsequently, the relative contributions of socio-economic and demographics on the work status of women (paid and unpaid) in India have been assessed by using logistic regression model. In the second stage, the level of poverty among paid and unpaid women has been measured by using poverty estimation methodology. Furthermore, the incidence of poverty among unpaid women has been decomposed, and the contribution of socio-economic predictors has been measured. Findings The study reveals that the participation of women in paid activities has been consistently declined. During the study period, it is observed that the amount of unpaid work activities of women has significantly increased. Moreover, the increase of unpaid activities is more intense for those women who are less educated, marginalized and belong to the poorer household. Originality/value The key contributions of this study are to underpin the issue of low and declining participation of female labor force in India as well as to understand the dynamics of changing work status (paid to unpaid) of females in the

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