A standing committee of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) is mulling revising the method to calculate the participation of women in the overall labour force and assess their contribution. The new methodology will bring the assessment of women’s participation in the workforce on par with international standards.
The 28-member standing committee on economic statistics, constituted in January 2020 by the MoSPI, is deliberating on modifying the questionnaire used for the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), The Economic Times reported, quoting a person aware of the development.
The existing PLFS methodology has certain measurement issues with female participation rate and this can be addressed by tweaking the questionnaire to make it more comprehensive. The focus of the revised questionnaire will be on a reduced recall period of one week instead of a year, the news report said, quoting an unnamed committee member.
According to experts, the existing framework of the PLFS on workforce participation is not comparable with international standards and hence a detailed follow-up questionnaire is needed to holistically capture the economic activities of the women, the report said. The questionnaire fails to capture the data clearly distinguished between economic activity and household work.
The proposed changes in the questionnaire if accepted by the government are expected to be implemented for computing data for 2022-23. The new questionnaire will have to be tested in pilot rounds before replacing the existing one.
According to the estimates of the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation, India has one of the lowest women (15 years and above) labour force participation rates in the world. According to a World Bank report, 28 women for every 100 men participated in the labour force in India compared to 64 women for every 100 men globally. It was the lowest in the world outside the Middle East. The female labour participation rate in India had fallen to 20.3% in 2019 from 26.4% in 2019.
In the July-September 2020 quarter, the female labour force participation rate in India stood at 16.1% amid the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and growing job crisis due to the lockdown. It was the lowest among major economies of the world, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey of the MoSPI.
Similarly, during the April-June 2020 quarter, as the Centre imposed a strict lockdown across the country to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the percentage of the women labour force had fallen to 15.5%, showed the PLFS data.
According to the PLFS data, the female labour force participation rate in India was 17.5% in 2017-18, 18.6% in 2018-19 and 22.8% in 2019-20.
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