Changes in Work Patterns of Rural Women in the Context of Structural Transformation in India

  • Nancy SebastianEmail author


The rural labour market in India is witnessing a structural transformation, with an evident shift from farm work to non-farm work. However, there are limited job options for rural women apart from agricultural work. Therefore, it becomes important to examine the change in work patterns for rural women when non-farm work opportunities like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are available. This chapter tries to answer questions on rural women’s work participation utilizing two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) panel data (2005–2012), on what are the changing patterns of work among rural women in the context of structural transformation, what determines their choice of one job over the other? What are the socio-economic determinants of how much labour is supplied in farm work by rural women? Has amount of labour days supplied in farm activities reduced for females as compared to men? The study reveals that, in rural areas, shifting out of agriculture is mainly for males with non-farm jobs having entry barrier. There is a preference for regular-salaried jobs with the rise in the income and education standards among the rural women. Days of work on farm have not declined much for rural women as compared to rural men, except for, those rural women with higher level of education and those at higher income quintiles. With limited job opportunities, agriculture still remains a main job option of women. MGNREGA mainly emerges as an alternative job option for the marginalized rural women who are poor, illiterate and from the backward classes. MGNREGA is mainly combined with farm work, probably during the lean agricultural season and has a poverty reducing potential for the rural households by providing employment for few days in a year yet significant in augmenting household income.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Study of Regional DevelopmentJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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