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Deconstructing Agricultural Growth Policy

Employment of Women in Rural Punjab

High economic growth has failed to improve the status or the participation of women in the labour market in developing countries. Taking into account the case of low labour force participation among women in rural Punjab, an analysis of existing policy prescriptions—of improving agricultural growth and crop diversification as a panacea to the problem—is revealed to be insufficient in improving the female labour force participation rate. In order for policy to successfully address these issues, it must consider the constraints imposed by gender norms.

Most mainstream economic theories consider the gross domestic product (GDP) and employment to be synonymous. The various economic models focus on GDP growth and assume that an increase in GDP automatically leads to full employment. However, these models are often built in the context of the developed Western countries that have different social and economic responses to economic growth. In a country like India, the policies pursued using these models may lead to undesirable results when it comes to employment generation, especially for women. Some macroeconomic models do focus on the implications of market imperfections due to factors like search costs, but they also fail to take into account costs that arise due to gender-based norms (Diamond 1989). These costs may lead to long-term hidden unemployment or underemployment in the economy. This hidden unemployment or underemployment is not visible in data, and workers may be counted as voluntarily unemployed or a part of the workforce.

Economic growth in India has not been able to improve the status or the participation of women in the labour market (Fletcher et al 2017). The worsened employment conditions among women remain a characteristic feature of the process of rural transformation in the Indian economy, accentuating the labour market vulnerabilities among women. This is ­reflected in women’s low employment participation, concentration in low productive sectors, low earnings, and irregularity of employment in rural areas (Chowdhury 2011; Kannan and Raveendran 2012; Mazumdar and Neetha 2011; Rangarajan et al 2011).

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Updated On : 7th Jul, 2020

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