South Asia Development Update Report

News Excerpt: 

According to the World Bank’s April South Asia Development Update report, India has moved fewer people to non-agriculture jobs than most neighbouring nations.

South Asia Development Update:

  • The South Asia Development Update, previously known as South Asia Economic Focus, is prepared twice a year by the Office of the Chief Economist for the South Asia region of the World Bank.
  • The report presents the near-term economic outlook for South Asia as well as an in-depth analysis of topical challenges and opportunities for policymakers in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 

Key highlights of the report:

  • India could only manage to move a smaller share of its working-age population away from farm-related work than many of its neighbours.
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal have managed to shift a bigger share of jobs to non-agricultural work than India.
  • Only Pakistan and the Maldives show a lower shift than India among South Asian countries.

India-specific trends:

  • The share of working-age Indians who are employed in agri-based jobs has come down over the years.
    • This employment ratio for India was 63.9% in 2000. 
    • It declined to 58.9% by 2010; 
    • Further declined to 53.8% in 2019.
  • The majority of its neighbours have seen a lower decline or an improvement since the turn of the millennium.

Gender trend:

  • India and Bangladesh are among the countries that saw a divergent gender trend when it comes to employment. 
  • Recent research has suggested that the increased participation of women in India could be driven by rising self-employment among them driven by economic distress.
  • Most South Asian countries recorded a decline in the employment ratio. 
  • The employment ratio for men in India declined by 9.6% points, the lowest after Nepal and Bhutan, between 2000 and 2023. 
  • Women’s employment ratio in India increased by 1.4% points. It was the highest for Bangladesh at 11.6% points. 
  • There have been some gains for women as the employment ratio for men has declined.
  • Women in Bangladesh are reportedly more economically active because of factors like the growth of its garment industry.

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