Voting with their feet

Voting with their feet

Are Indian workers finally abandoning life on the farm? A new report published on 12 August by the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that in 2006, agriculture absorbed just 48.4% of the total labour force in South Asia. The number in 1996: 58.5%.

If one assumes that India, by far the largest country in South Asia, has shadowed the regional trend, then we have seen a huge movement of labour out of agriculture and into industry and services. This is nothing short of a revolution in the labour market.

Government data do show a gradual shift of labour away from agriculture, but not to this extent. ILO believes that in 2015, only 39.5% of employable South Asians will be working on the farm. Industry (25.7%) and services (34.7%) will grow in importance.

This change will have huge implications for both urbanization as well as for broader social policy.