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Rural non-farm employment diversification in India: the role of gender, education, caste and land ownership

Kashmiri Das (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, North Guwahati, India)
Amarjyoti Mahanta (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, North Guwahati, India)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Non-farm employment has transitioned from a residual to a dominant livelihood option in rural India. Despite the sector’s diverse welfare implications, it is still a male-dominant sector with limited scope for female’s participation. Several socio-economic and cultural factors are responsible for such disparities in occupational choices. The purpose of this study is to examine this gender dimension of occupational diversification for rural India and focuses on the role of education, caste and land ownership in explaining employment probabilities across gender.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses secondary data on employment and unemployment from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) for rural India and pooled the data for three periods that include 61st (2004–2005), 66th (2009–2010) and 68th (2011–2012) round comprising a total of 235,722 individuals. The study applies a multinomial logit regression model.

Findings

The results show that education facilitates females to diversify to sectors like manufacturing, mining and construction while educated males are more likely to diversify to services. However, the likelihood of diversification by educated females is low for those belonging to land-owning households. On the contrary, land ownership facilitates educated males to join sectors like mining and quarrying and services. It is also found that females belonging to Scheduled Tribe/Scheduled Caste (ST/SC) households diversify to low return activities like manufacturing and construction while males are more likely to join services.

Originality/value

This study has contributed to the literature on employment diversification by considering not only the gender aspect of diversification but also examining how education, caste and land would explain occupational choices between males and females. It is evident from the findings that education can be a liberating factor for females to participate actively in sectors outside agriculture but the status quo associated with land ownership in rural India declines their possibility of economic participation compared to males. Even educated females are confined to manufacturing and construction in the absence of proper non-farm employment opportunities for them.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors of this article are grateful to the anonymous referees for their constructive and valuable comments.

Citation

Das, K. and Mahanta, A. (2023), "Rural non-farm employment diversification in India: the role of gender, education, caste and land ownership", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSE-06-2022-0429

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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