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

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How Unstable Are the Sources of Livelihood?

Analysis Based on Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017–18 Data

This paper, based on the data from the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey, reflects on the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood and the phenomenon of multiple activities pursued simultaneously. A thorough analysis of the quarterly data suggests that in the rural areas, workers largely dependent on agriculture are compelled to shift to other activities in the off season. The nature of employment also varies, particularly in the urban areas. The occupational choice model estimated based on the quarterly data is indicative of changes in the marginal effect for workers of a given caste or an individual with a certain educational attainment. Certain social categories and workers with less educational attainments are more susceptible to changing probability of joining a particular activity and adopting multiple activities.


The authors are grateful to the referee and the editorial team for their constructive suggestions and comments.

The lack of sustainable sources of livelihood has become a significant phenomenon, both in the rural and urban areas. Also, a single source of livelihood is often not adequate to meet the minimum requirements, compelling workers to access more than one activity at a given point in time. This paper proposes to reflect on these two aspects. Based on the Period Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017–18 data, it begins by ­examining the employment structure of the rural population over different quarters in order to assess if the share of a particular activity in the total workforce varies considerably within a given year. In the urban context, while employment structure in terms of different industry divisions may not be changing much, the type of employment measured in terms of self-employment, regular wage employment and casual wage ­employment may be varying across quarters.

Based on household/individual data, we try to decipher such patterns through descriptive statistics as well as econometric analyses. The determinants of employment in terms of caste and education can unravel if certain caste categories or population without educational attainments are more prone than others to adopt certain employment types and if that ­association tends to vary across quarters. The issue of inadequacy of income from one source is examined on the basis of a binomial logit model distinguishing those who have one source of employment from those who have more than one at a time. In terms of caste, educational and other characteri­stics, who is more likely to adopt multiple sources of livelihood can then be ascertained. The present section reflects on studies which bring out issues related to sources of livelihood and diversification that households might have been compelled to adopt.

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Updated On : 31st Jul, 2021
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