Economic Development and Female Labour Force Participation in Tamil Nadu: A Test of the ‘U’ Shape Hypothesis

S. Sundari
Journal article Economic Affairs • December 2019

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(English, 8 pages)


This paper analyses the trends and pattern of women’s employment in the state of Tamil Nadu and its districts in order to find out the applicability of the “U” curve shape of female labour supply using NSSO and census data on employment for the period 1983 to 2018. Top five and bottom five districts on the basis of district level per capita income and female literacy are selected as sample districts. The results show that there has been a significant growth in GSDP of the state during 1983 and 2018, but there is no corresponding improvement in female work participation rates. Women’s employment has fallen particularly during the period 2011 and 2018 and rural areas have registered a greater withdrawal of women from workforce. The “U” curve hypothesis does not find empirical evidence and support in the case of Tamil Nadu. Strong negative effect of income and weak substitution effect of expansion of female education and lack of job opportunities have contributed towards an inverted “U” curve. If suitable measures are not taken to improve female labour market participation, then Tamil Nadu cannot harvest the benefits of demographic dividend.




Economic Affairs

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