Sunil Saroj
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Mamata Pradhan
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Ruchira Boss
University of Gottingen
Devesh Roy
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, Aug 2022, 81
JEL Codes:
J40, J43, J46
● Roles of rural non-farm employment (RNFE) in India: Why RNFE, the conveyor of a shock like COVID 19 is also the key to recovery?
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We assess the role of Rural Non-Farm Employment (RNFE) in livelihoods and in likely impacts of shocks like COVID 19. In Indias agri-food system, the preponderance of small farmers with low endowments of human and financial capital implies that, RNFE has been the principal source of poverty reduction. Yet, RNFE is also the most adversely affected by shocks like COVID 19 and the measures adopted to prevent disease spread. To assess the roles of RNFE and possible effects of shocks, we uniquely utilize the recent rounds of nationally representative Periodic Labor Force Surveys (PLFS). To assess the potential impact of COVID 19 on workers, by using the large dataset, we match similar workers in different states of employment (SOE) where SOE may partly reflect the situation post shock. Job loss, reduction in work hours, movement across types of employment, casualization within RNFE is possible due to shocks to RNFE. We estimate that SOE in RNFE have significant association with poverty and income. With the data on COVID lockdown periods, we then validate the results to pair with the prospectively assessed impacts. Notwithstanding the effect of shocks, RNFE has the unique potential in recovery, being the prime rural income generator and risk mitigator apart from being characterized by comparatively high growth in female employment and in socially disadvantaged groups in India.

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