India Working Survey


About the survey

The India Working Survey (IWS) is a collaborative project between researchers at Azim Premji University, the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB), and the University of Western Australia. It is supported by the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE), IIMB and Azim Premji University. The first round of the IWS (2020−21) had the objective of studying the role of social identities in labour market outcomes in India, and was conducted in two states, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

Using a detailed survey instrument, IWS 2020 – 21 seeks to examine the multi-faceted ways in which caste, gender, and religious identities impact work participation, employment patterns, and remuneration for paid work. It also addresses the problem of accurately measuring women’s participation in paid work. The survey adopts a number of approaches to capture these influences including a time-use module, random lists to uncover biases, a life history calendar that marks entries and exits from the labour force over an individual’s life, and self-versus-proxy reporting of labour market participation.

During the months of February and March 2020, 3646 randomly selected households were visited across Karnataka and Rajasthan. We spoke with one randomly selected male and one randomly selected female respondent from each household, wherever available. We interviewed 5951 individuals (3371 women and 2580 men) across the two states.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic lockdown, the field survey had to be suspended in mid-March when around 50% of the sample had been interviewed. Since we could not proceed with the remainder of our random sample of households, we transitioned to a phone re-survey. In September 2020, we contacted the men and women we had interviewed in the field survey for whom we had a phone number and who had consented to us calling them back later. We were able to reach 3376 individuals from the original field sample.

In this second wave of survey, the objective was to understand how individuals had been affected as a result of the April-May economic lockdown. The survey also asked about employment status at the time of interview to understand how individuals are coping and how the labour market is recovering post-lockdown.

Early findings from the first (field) and second (phone) waves have been published as part of the State of Working India 2021 report on the impact of Covid-19 on India’s labour market.

Findings from the survey