This chapter deals with an important but neglected aspect of female labor force participation (FLFP) in urban India. Contemporary literature typically focuses on the entire urban sector and ignores one important aspect of urban living – the slums and its dwellers. This study fills that critical gap by examining two different household surveys side-by-side: a primary survey of households living in slums and slum-rehabilitated colonies, and the nationally representative Indian Human Development survey-II. This study brings outs a comparative picture of nature/type of FLFP and its various correlates from both slum and non-slum areas of three metro cities of India, viz. Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. It further explores the similarities and the differences of the correlates for FLFP among the slum clusters of these cities. It is found that despite being poorer and marginalized, the slum dwelling women’s LFP rate is not extra-ordinarily high vis-á-vis their non-slum urban counterparts. In slums, a higher proportion of women are engaged in self-employment (including family business) and casual employments (includes domestic helps), whereas in non-slum areas relatively more women are engaged in regular salaried jobs. Regression analysis identifies correlates that have similar effects, but with different intensity, across-the-board – relationship between education and FLFP reflects a flat-bottom J-shaped pattern; being married, higher child dependency ratio and household heads with higher education significantly constrain women’s work choice; strong income effect of other household members earning on FLFP, but asset holding has no bearing. However, there are other factors that affect FLFP differently in slums and non-slum areas. Policy prescriptions are drawn.
I am grateful to Dr Suman Seth, University of Leeds and Dr Anirban Kar, Delhi School of Economics for their valuable comments. I also thank Tanu Gupta and Nikita Sangwan for their excellent initial research support. This chapter took shape during my tenure as the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Visiting Chair at the Centre for Contemporary Indian Studies, University of Colombo. I am thankful to the ICCR, New Delhi for this opportunity.
This work is part of the Nopoor Research Project supported by the European Union (www.nopoor.eu) Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°290752.
Bag, S. (2020), "Urban Female Labor Force Participation and Its Correlates: A Comparative Study of Slum Dwellers and Their Urban Counterparts of Three Metro Cities in India", Ochman, M. and Ortega-Díaz, A. (Ed.) Advances in Women’s Empowerment: Critical Insight from Asia, Africa and Latin America (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 95-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-212620200000029004
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