This paper traces the movement of wages of field labour in agriculture, both men and women, among 18 Indian states during the period 2005-06 to 2015-16, based on data from Agricultural Wages in India (AWI) of the Government of India. The estimates assembled show that the state-wise variations in nominal wages have remained stable over the years, suggesting a continued presence of region-specific factors such as differentials in productivity and cost of living, influencing wage levels. The ranking of states with nominal wages has remained almost unchanged; but there are some new entrants to the category of low-wage states. The same goes for gender disparity in wages, which has not increased over the years. However, there was no noticeable reduction of disparity among the states, which have had high estimates to begin with. As for the growth of money wages of men and women, the indices have risen impressively by more than three-fold in most states. One feature that calls for attention is why the more urbanised and industrially advancing states keep on paying inordinately low wages to their unskilled workers in rural areas. The study also flags a number of factors that could plausibly have influenced the absolute level of money wages. It brings out that real wages of men and women have had a consistent, but not spectacular rise, spread over a longer spell in many states. However, there is an ominous tendency for real wages to deteriorate in some industrially advanced states. The relevant indices compiled point to a striking association between the growth of real wages and net state domestic product per capita (NSDPPC) at constant prices. It also suggests that an increase in productivity is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for raising real wages at the lower end of labour markets.
The Indian Journal of Labour Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 6, 2018
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