OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

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Raising the Economic Participation of Women in India

A New Growth Engine?

Economic participation of women in the labour force or as entrepreneurs is low compared to peers and has declined over the past decades despite strong growth. The gap with men is over 50%--the largest among key emerging markets. Participation declines with higher education achievements and family incomes. The reasons are complex: socioeconomic and cultural factors are important - family status increases if women stay home, house work has become more attractive than poorly paid market work as husband’s incomes have risen; and safety concerns and poor infrastructure keep women from market work. Nevertheless, high unemployment among educated women and revealed preference for work in surveys indicate that many women would work if conditions improved. Availability of jobs is also an issue as the high growth has not created enough jobs for men and especially for women.

Specific gender policies will be needed to enlarge economic opportunities for women and to overcome socioeconomic and cultural barriers. This paper analyses the determinants of low female economic participation and recommends policies for raising it. The paper also estimates long-term growth effects of raising participation with selected policies. More and better jobs for women in India could raise growth by about 2 percentage points a year over time. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of India (http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-india.htm).


Keywords: gender equality, female economic participation, gender, India
JEL: J21: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure; J18: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics: Public Policy; J22: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Time Allocation and Labor Supply; J46: Labor and Demographic Economics / Particular Labor Markets / Informal Labor Markets; J82: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor Standards: National and International / Labor Standards: Labor Force Composition; J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination; J71: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor Discrimination / Discrimination; J83: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor Standards: National and International / Labor Standards: Workers' Rights
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