Gender parity to boost India’s economic growth

Sunday, Nov 15, 2015,15:00 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Terming gender-gap in Indian job market as higher than most other countries, IMF today pitched for greater investment in infrastructure and enhanced social spending to bring in larger number of women in labour force.

As per a recent IMF study, India’s GDP can expand by 27 per cent if the number of women workers increases to the same level as that of men.

This is much higher than the positive impact a 50-50 gender parity in workforce can have on many other economies. The study refers to the GDP gain that would materialise if the labour force participation gap between men and women is closed. This gender gap in labour force participation is much larger in India than in most other countries, said Kalpana Kochhar, Deputy Director of IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

Specifically, this gender gap is around 50 per cent in India, compared with an average gap of 12 per cent in OECD countries. Since the gap is much larger in India, the economic gain from closing it is much larger compared with other countries, Kochhar said in an interview.

She further said that delivering such a large increase in women participation will require work along many dimensions, including increased labour market flexibility, greater investment in infrastructure, and enhanced social spending.

When asked about the potential benefits in terms of GDP growth that India can realise by removing the financial and employment exclusion on parameters like caste and religion, Kochhar said, the IMF has not done any work on this issue beyond looking at gender gaps.

On G-20 pledge to reduce the gap in women’s labour force participation by 25 per cent by 2025, she said it was a very positive step. Progress towards this goal will take time as it will require policy efforts along many dimensions. Policies to raise female participation in the labour force include revising tax codes to remove disincentives to work, providing high quality and affordable child care and well-designed parental leave policies.

In developing economies, better infrastructure in rural areas and increased expenditure on the education of girls and women will help. More equal laws and reducing discrimination will also be needed to meet this goal, she added.

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