How Comparable are India’s Labour Market Surveys- A comparison of NSS, Labour Bureau and CMIE Estimates

Azim Premji University,


With the lack of official government data on unemployment and other labour market indicators, the most viable and recent source have been the regular household surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE). Given the differences in methods in data collection, it becomes exceedingly important to establish some comparability between the government and the CMIE datasets. This paper attempts to do that using two methods. First we fit a model of employment status on the CMIE data and see how well it predicts outcomes in the older Labour Bureau 2015 – 16 and NSS 2011-12 data. Then we compare state-level estimates of broad labour market indicators from CMIE 2016 and Labour Bureau 2015 – 16 datasets. The broad results are that despite differences in methodologies, the estimates for men are quite comparable between the surveys, while measures of women’s participation in the labour force seem particularly sensitive to the way questions are asked in surveys.


  • Rosa Abraham
  • Anand Shrivastava