In the pursuit of national development, India places significant importance on GDP growth, considering it a fundamental precursor to overall progress and prosperity.

The State of Working India (SWI) Report, particularly its fourth edition in 2023, delves into India’s long-term structural transformation, highlighting its implications on key social identities—caste, gender, and religion.


  • Quality of Employment: SWI 2023 underscores the significance of evaluating the quality of employment generated, emphasizing that certain forms, such as “casual labor” under MGNREGA or unpaid “self-employment,” are insufficient compared to regular wage jobs.
  • Non-farm Output vs. Employment Growth: Since the 1980s, the growth of non-farm output in India, measured by GDP from sectors beyond agriculture, has consistently outpaced the growth of non-farm employment.
  • Employment Elasticity of Growth: A crucial metric for assessing the GDP growth and employment relationship is the employment elasticity of growth, measuring how much employment increases when GDP grows by one unit. This ratio provides insights into the inclusive nature of economic growth.
  • 2017-2021 Employment Trends: Notably, the period from 2017 to 2021 witnessed a substantial increase in overall employment. However, there is a concurrent rise in employment flexibility, indicating shifts in job characteristics.
  • Formal Job Share: While there was a slowdown in the creation of regular wage jobs during 2017-2021, the proportion of formal jobs, characterized by a written contract and benefits, increased from 25% to 35% of all regular wage work.

Findings of the Report:

  • Caste Disparities in Employment: From 1983 to 2021, the proportion of SC category workers in regular wage employment increased, yet it remains lower than that of general caste workers. In 2021, 32% of general caste workers had regular wage jobs compared to 22% of SC workers.
  • Self-Employment Disparities: General caste workers exhibit a higher rate of self-employment compared to SC workers, indicating disparities in entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Intergenerational Mobility: Economic intergenerational mobility is more pronounced for general caste casual wage workers than for SC/STs, suggesting varying degrees of social mobility.
  • Women’s Employment Trends: The SWI 2023 analyzes the period from 1983 to 2023, highlighting changes in women’s representation across industries. For instance, there’s an increasing presence in sectors like tobacco, education, health, and textiles, but a decline in waste management & sewerage.
  • Metropolitan Women’s Labor Participation: The U-shaped trend in metropolitan women’s labor participation rates, with rising education levels, signifies that as growth progresses and female education rises, employment options with better earnings become available, attracting more women into the workforce.

In summary, the State of Working India (SWI) Report provides comprehensive insights into the intricate relationship between GDP growth and employment in India.

By scrutinizing the nuances of employment quality, disparities across caste and gender, and the evolving nature of job markets, the report serves as a valuable resource for understanding the dynamics of India’s economic landscape over the years.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish December 8, 2023