RQ | Value of skill in rural India

Earlier today I had blogged about wage rates for unskilled workers in rural India. Now, we will use the same dataset and see what premium people pay for skills. The same data gives wages for certain occupations – carpenters, masons, cobblers, blacksmiths, etc. There are also wages given for various types of farm labour, and for the purpose of this exercise I’ve used ploughing to be representative of farm labour.

The following plot shows the wage rates for different skills in different states. A note on how to read this graph. The x axis represents the state and the y axis represents the daily wage for that particular skill. The skill itself is represented in text form. So for example a carpenter in rural Kerala gets about Rs. 600 per day while a sweeper in Bihar gets about Rs. 100.

Source: Labour Bureau. Numbers for April 2013

Source: Labour Bureau. Numbers for April 2013

  • Notice that even skilled jobs in other states don’t fetch as much as an unskilled job in Kerala. Tamil Nadu and Punjab come closest
  • The skills most in demand in rural areas across states are carpentry and masonry, if you go by this data
  • In most states, cobblers earn lower than “unskilled workers”. This is interesting because there is skill involved in making and repairing shoes. The low wages for cobblers indicates a caste bias. It is also possible that since cobblers are mostly self-employed their wage rate is inaccurate
  • Blacksmiths are again not too highly valued in villages
  • The high numbers for Kerala could be a function of the state’s lower urban-rural divide compared to the rest of India. Kerala is generally described as a semi-urban continuum with no strongly delineated urban and rural areas. Rural workers could be expensive since they are in demand for urban jobs also, unlike in other states.

The same caveats that apply to the previous post apply to this. We don’t know the sample size or the accuracy of the survey. Nevertheless, some interesting insights come out.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.