Centre to classify activities to study gender-based productivity

| | Updated on: Apr 15, 2016
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Time use survey to help government improve employability, aid policy making

To get a better sense of paid and unpaid work, including women’s contribution to households, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is working on a National Classification of Activities on which people will be surveyed.

The Ministry is finalising the modalities for a regular time-use survey for this, a senior government official said. As the name suggests, the survey will capture all activities of both men and women during the day and help the government improve employability of the people as well as aid on gender-specific policy making.

“The challenge is that there is no agreed classification of activities to be surveyed in the System of National Accounts or even elsewhere,” the official added.

In the past, the Ministry has already carried out two such pilot surveys — the most recent being in 2013 in Gujarat and Bihar — but there have been no regular surveys. Over 60 countries including the US, UK, Australia, France and Switzerland have conducted such surveys between 1990 and 2013, according to the United Nations Statistics Division.

Crucial statistical tool Pointing out that the declining female participation rates in conventional surveys are largely explained by the high share of women in unpaid work, the Economic Survey 2015 had noted that the time-use survey is a crucial statistical tool that would help “design gender-sensitive policies for employment and to make women’s and men’s work visible… and will provide profile of work in unpaid forms in the country.”

A group of officials in the Ministry of Statistics is also working on the modalities and logistics of carrying out the survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). “It is different from any other survey carried out by the NSSO, so there has to be exhaustive planning,” said the official, adding that a regular survey could be rolled out by next year.

Pointers from earlier ones The pilot surveys of 2013 in Gujarat and Bihar and the earlier study of 1998-1999 in six States, had thrown up some interesting data.

While, there was a clear distinction in common activities of children, for others it was difficult to classify whether it had an economic role or not.

Some of the examples of these activities are: feeding of animals (including poultry), feeding of grains to birds (not poultry), listening to music, painting, or going to work for a period of nine hours.

The 2013 pilot survey had also found that women could provide more accurate information than men as most of them stayed in the house. Surveyors had also faced problems of concerns of privacy.

A time-use survey could also come in handy for gender studies as many economists have argued that unpaid household work by women is important but does not have any economic value. It could also explain the reason behind low employment rates for women in India.

Published on January 20, 2018

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