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Why in news?

Using the two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) data for 2005 and 2012, the analysis shows there is a link between disability, loss of employment and impoverishment in rural India.

Patterns of disability

  • The prevalence of disability was 9.70% in the rural population in 2012.
  • Of the disabled, more than half (51.3%) suffered from two-four disabilities.
  • Persistence was also largest in this range of disabilities (about 31% remained disabled between 2005 and 2012).
  • The share of those suffering from one disability was largest in the age group 31-50 years, followed by 51-60 years.
  • In the case of two-four disabilities, the largest share was found among those aged 31-50, 51-60, and then, among the older group, 61-70 years.
  • The share of those suffering from more than four disabilities rose from those aged 31-50 years old to 61-70 years and then declined

Patterns of Employment

  • Employment in rural areas is disaggregated into categories: no employment, or less than 240 hours in the previous year (i.e., before 2012); part-time employment, or more than 240 hours; and full-time employment (at least 250 days and at least 2,000 hours).
  • What is indeed striking is that among the disabled, the proportion of those not employed is just under half, and markedly lower in part-time and full-time employment.
  • Instead of using a poverty cut-off, the researchers used terciles of per capita expenditure (at constant prices).
  • The bottom tercile denotes extremely poor, the next middle class and the third affluent.
  • As non-disabled households are a huge fraction, it is not surprising that their shares are highest in each tercile.

Thus, highly disabled are largely confined to extreme poverty. They face barriers to long-duration employment including discriminatory practices in hiring the disabled.

December 2023