Building a Social Security Architecture for Informal Workers in India, Finally!

Azim Premji University,


Social protection and social security have very limited coverage in India. This reality has not changed since independence, one of greatest failures of the development strategy India adopted in the early fifties. The labour force is predominantly unorganized. As much as 91 per cent of the labour force are in informal employment, i.e. without any social insurance we estimated from the NSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017−18) (Mehrotra and Parida, 2019). This is barely down 2 percentage points from 93% in 2011-12 (NSO’s 68th Round). In fact, regardless of the growth rate of GDP, this high share of informality in the workforce had not changed until 2012, and when it fell recently, it did so by merely 2 points. The rest 9 per cent of the workforce has varying levels of social security in the form of provident fund, paid leave, medical insurance and other benefits.


  • Santosh Mehrotra