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Labour force participation of elderly in India: patterns and determinants

A Bheemeshwar Reddy (Economic Analysis Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, India)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 May 2016




The purpose of this paper is to analyse the labour force participation of older persons (aged 60 and above) in India from 1983 to 2011-2012. The paper also briefly reviews the conditions of work for the elderly and examines different socio-economic and demographic factors that are associated with labour force participation of elderly in India.


The author uses data from repeated cross-sectional rounds of Employment and Unemployment Surveys of National Sample Survey Office from 1983 to 2011-2012. The author uses probit regression model to identify the socio-economic and demographic variables that are associated with the labour participation of the elderly in India.


The results show that labour force participation rate of older persons in rural India remained almost stable between 1983 and 2011-2012, despite the rapid economic growth that India experienced during the same period. Further, the results show that among the elderly, those who belong to relatively poor socio-economic status are more likely to participate in the labour force. It is observed that large percentage of the elderly workforce are engaged in poorly paid jobs in the informal sector, either as casual workers or as self-employed in low-skilled or unskilled occupations.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is mostly descriptive in its analysis and it only points to the possible socio-economic and demographic determinants of elderly labour force participation in India.


Given that the studies on employment of elderly in India are scanty, this paper provides new evidence on changes in labour force participation of elderly over last three decades. Further, this study makes an attempts to understand who among the elderly most likely to participation in labour force in India.



Reddy, A.B. (2016), "Labour force participation of elderly in India: patterns and determinants", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 43 No. 5, pp. 502-516.



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