Moving in or dropping out? India's female migrants and urban labour force integration

Project Active from to Cities

One important, yet understudied, constraint to female labour force participation (FLFP)  is women’s inability to successfully migrate to where the jobs are - cities. In our pilot, young women and parents report being concerned for their safety when considering migrating to a major city for a job, but still reporting similar willingness to migrate for work as young men. Therefore, with proper support, young women may be willing and successful economic migrants.

Against this backdrop, the government of India has recently prioritised drawing huge numbers of India’s youth into the labour force and cities through Skill India and Make in India. These programmes present an unprecedented opportunity to bring many young women into the labour force. In the expanding skills sector, government-funded skilling agencies must meet gender quotas to ensure female participation. However, anecdotal evidence suggests women are more likely to drop out of the labour force post-migration, even after training. Appropriate measures to improve female migrants’ labour force retention are poorly understood.

We propose to address this knowledge gap by:

  1. Analysing secondary data to understand migration patterns and their relationship to labour force outcomes.
  2. Collecting and analysing micro-data from stakeholders of Skill India and Make in India to understand trends in migration, unmet challenges in migration for employment, and youths’ employment episodes post-migration.
  3. Conducting qualitative scoping to understand status quo migration support practices and identify mechanisms to improve female labour market outcomes through enhanced migration support.

Using this data and analysis, we will write a paper analysing the descriptive impact of migration on employment trends and identifying steps that the government of India and stakeholders can take to help female migrants successfully transition into the urban labour force. This analysis and data collection will help us design a large-scale randomised experiment to test these enhanced migration support initiatives on young female migrants’ employment and empowerment outcomes.