New Delhi: By choosing not to reveal the jobs data compiled by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the Narendra Modi government also ended up concealing some positive trends about the way India’s demography is changing.
The NSSO survey reportedly showed a 45-year high unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent, which is why many economists believe the government chose not to release the survey ahead of the general elections.
P.C. Mohanan, former chairman of the National Statistical Commission, told ThePrint that the data would’ve also shown an increase in the number of students pursuing education beyond class 10, especially females, and a reduction in the gender gap of students in school.
“The NSSO survey would have shown some new and interesting things — the longer period of education and the reducing gender gap. These are all good things, but we got frightened by looking at the unemployment numbers. That number has to be dissected into a number of groups to see where it is happening,” Mohanan said.
“Earlier, dropouts from school used to happen at the age of 13-14 years. Now, there are hardly any dropouts till matriculation or higher secondary. And the percentage of females taking education beyond 15 years has doubled in rural areas.”
Data compiled by the NSSO showed that the percentage of females studying beyond 15 years in rural areas had doubled in the last 14 years. According to the 2017-18 survey, nearly 23 per cent of rural females had received secondary education and above, compared to 10.2 per cent in 2004-05.
The corresponding numbers for rural males were 36 per cent in 2017-18 and 21.1 per cent in 2004-05.
The improvement in education levels among urban females has been comparatively slower — more than 48 per cent studied till class 10th and above in 2017-18, as against 35.6 per cent in 2004-05.
The gender gap in education has also been reducing, with literacy rates having increased sharply for females as compared to males. The all-India female literacy rate has increased by 13 percentage points to 70 per cent in 2017-18 from 57 per cent in 2004-05. In comparison, the literacy rate among males has increased to 84 per cent from 77 per cent.
Mohanan explained that these factors had contributed to the rise in unemployment numbers.
“The youth are spending more time in the education system. So, the labour force participation rate for the lower age groups has come down. But the minute they pass out of colleges, they all list themselves as unemployed because they don’t immediately get a job. This has seen the unemployment rate increasing,” Mohanan said.
What new govt could bring
Mohanan had quit the NSC in protest after the government did not release the NSSO survey on employment for 2017-18, based on periodic labour force surveys, despite his commission vetting the report for release in December 2018.
This data is now expected to be released once the new government takes over later this month.
“It is possible that the government will also add the results of the periodic labour force surveys conducted after June 2018 and release the comprehensive data,” Mohanan said.