Determinants of the Patterns Within and Across Countries of South Asia
The problems of agriculture and poverty cannot be addressed without reducing the number of workers and their families dependent on land, thereby raising productivity. There are substantial rural-urban and male-female differences in rates of labor force participation, employment, and unemployment, as well as informality of employment that exist within and across South Asian countries. Also, most of the employed in South Asia work in the informal sector. Regular wage or salaried employment in formal sectors accounted for a small share in total employment. Analyzing these differences and devising policies to address them requires a basic understanding of the determinants and the motivation underlying behavioral decisions at the household level. To the best of my knowledge, the rich data on household level variables available in repeated cross sections, particularly from surveys of employment, unemployment and labor force participation have not been widely exploited for econometrically estimating an integrated model of determinants of labor force participation, employment and unemployment, and investment in education, although some studies using aggregate data are available, particularly on the returns to education at various levels. In what follows, I will summarize selectively some studies, not all necessarily based on household surveys, in the economics literature.