|dc.description.abstract||This Working Paper is about the unemployment situation in Kerala.
It is based on the findings of the two Gulf Migration Studies, Kerala
Migration Study (KMS) and South Asia Migration Study (SMS),
conducted by the authors at the Centre for Development Studies,
Thiruvananthapuram, during the last five years. The paper gives measures
of unemployment rates in the state in 1998 and 2003, examines their
variation by geographic regions, such as districts and taluks, by
demographic characteristics such as age, sex and marital status, by sociocultural
variables such as education, religion and community, and by
economic indicators of households such as remittances received, quality
of housing, possession of consumer durables, etc. On the basis of the
trends and differentials in the profile of the unemployed, the study
provides a few insights, some quite unorthodox, on the factors associated
with the increase in the unemployment rate in the state during 1998-
2003. As far as possible, all the assertions and conclusions are supported
by factual data from the two surveys.
Unemployment rates in Kerala, as estimated in KMS and SMS,
were more or less of the same order of magnitude as those provided by
National Sample Survey (NSS) and other studies. The rates were 19.2
in 2003 and 11.2 in 1998. They, however, varied considerably by
socioeconomic factors. The rate was 34 percent of the labour force in
Thiruvananthapuram district but only 10 percent in Idukki district; it
was 41 percent among females but only 11 percent among males; 59
percent among unmarried females but only 2 percent among married
males; 50 percent among persons under 25 years of age but only 6 percent
among those above 30 years; 50 percent among persons with secondary
education but only 1 percent among those who did not complete primary
level of education; 29 percent among the Mar Thoma Syrian Christian
community, but only 11 percent among the Scheduled Castes.
A major point of interest of the Working Paper was the question:
what caused the large increase (55 percent among males and 115 percent
among females) in unemployment during 1998-2003? The paper identified four factors that could possibly be associated
with the increase in unemployment in the state. They are
- Influx of a large number of women into the labour force,
- Aging of the labour force,
- Large increase in the number of persons with secondary or higher
levels of education, and
- Emigration and inward remittances.
The paper gives strong empirical support to the positive association
between unemployment rate on the one side and education and emigration
on the other. It also gives a list of taluks in which the unemployment rate
was much higher than (or much lower than) the level expected on the
basis of the above hypotheses. Detailed examination of the employment
and other socio-economic situations in these deviant taluks could provide
additional insight on the determinants of unemployment in Kerala.
The paper concluded with the observation that unemployment in
Kerala is much more a social problem than an economic problem. Five
factors lead to this conclusion. First, nearly 70-75 percent of the
unemployed in 1998 became employed within five years, the hard-core
unemployment lasting more than 5 years being only about 5-6 percent.
Second, there is no geographical area that remains a high unemployment
area for longer periods of time. Third, the unemployment rate among
persons 30 years of age or more was only about 6 percent. Fourth, many
of the unemployed came from relatively well-to-do households living in
"good or luxurious" houses furnished with expensive household durables.
Fifth, the unemployed are rarely the breadwinners of the households
concerned, but are mostly unmarried sons or daughters of the head, or
married women whose husbands are the breadwinners.
The paper offers little by way of new policies to reduce
unemployment in the state except to stress the relevance of educational
reforms. Although there is considerable scope for creating new jobs in
the state, as most of the goods consumed in the state are produced outside the state, the nonresident Keralites are flush with money, and the labour
force on the whole is academically "well educated", the problem of the
Kerala worker's reluctance to do hard manual jobs and of the near
"unemployability" of most of the educated youths in the state stand in
the way. In terms of policies to reduce the unemployment rate in Kerala,
educational reforms deserve top priority. This is not a finding of this
study, but a conclusion that deserves reiteration.
Key Words: International Migration, Remittances, Unemployment,
Replacement Migration, Kerala
JEL Classification: J21, J23||en_GB