By Aman Kayal, Academic Content Writer for Economics

Does the worker-population ratio say anything about workers’ status in society or about the working conditions? By knowing the status with which a worker is placed in an enterprise, it may be possible to know one dimension — quality of employment in a country. It also enables us to know the attachment a worker has with his or her job and the authority she or he has over the enterprise and over other co-workers. Let us take three workers from the construction industry — a cement shop owner, a construction worker and a civil engineer of a construction company. Since the status of each one of them is different from another, they are also called differently. Workers who own and operate an enterprise to earn their livelihood are known as self-employed. Thus the cement shop owner is self-employed. About 52 per cent workforce in India belongs to this category. The construction workers are known as casual wage labourers; they account for about 25 per cent of India’s workforce. Such labourers are casually engaged in others’ farms and, in return, get a remuneration for the work done. Workers like the civil engineer working in the construction company account for 23 per cent of India’s workforce. When a worker is engaged by someone or an enterprise and paid his or her wages on a regular basis, they are known as regular salaried employees (see table 2.3). Look at Chart 7.1 you will notice that self employment is a major source of livelihood for both men and women as this category accounts for more than 50 per cent of the workforce. Casual wage work is the second major source for both men and women, a little more so for the latter (24-27 per cent). When it comes to regular salaried employment, both women and men are found to be so engaged in greater proportion. Men form 23 per cent whereas women form 21 per cent. The gap between men and women is very less. When we compare the distribution of workforce in rural and urban areas in Chart 7.2 you will notice that the selfemployed and casual wage labourers are found more in rural areas than in urban areas. In the latter, both self employment and regular wage salaried jobs are greater. In the former, since majority of those depending on farming own plots of land and cultivate independently, the share of selfemployed is greater. The nature of work in urban areas is different. Obviously everyone cannot run factories, shops and offices of various types. Moreover enterprises in urban areas require workers on a regular basis.

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