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Gender Discrimination and the Biased Indian Labour Market: Evidence from the National Sample Survey

Gupta, Pallavi and Kothe, Satyanarayan (2021): Gender Discrimination and the Biased Indian Labour Market: Evidence from the National Sample Survey.

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Gender gaps in wages are a reflection of inequality and discrimination. This exists across region, sector, type of work and other divisions. Discrimination, is a presence of inequalities between male and female workers with similar skills and in similar occupations. Therefore only understanding wage inequality may be looking at the problem partially. Using the Indian National Sample Survey 2011-12, this paper examines the facets of gender-based wage inequality and discrimination in regular and casual workers. First, Theil index is calculated to interpret within and between groups inequalities. Then, a Three-fold Oaxaca decomposition method is utilised to divide the wage gaps between explained, unexplained and interaction components. We show that even though the returns on education are higher for women than men at each level of education, females continue to earn less. Results clearly indicate a high raw wage differential of 51.5 percent, which is divided into three portions of which the endowment is significantly low at 3.1 percent percent and a much higher discrimination (coefficient) at 37.9 percent. Discrimination is greater in regular employment as compared to casual employment; higher in urban as compared to rural region. We show that women workers are discriminated against on the basis of age. Policies need to emphasise on not just improving female participation but also to maintain it. The need is for sincere efforts in improving access to the labour market through training programs specially designed for women that incorporate dealing with complexities such as child care, maternity benefits, transportation and even safety. Putting awareness at the core of a long-grained thought process that discourages distribution of unpaid or care work and sees it primarily as a ‘women’s job’ may create a less discriminating and unbiased labour market for Indian women.

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