Rural Unemployment

Unemployment refers to the situation in which an individual who is able and willing to work at an existing wage rate does not get work. Unemployment in India can broadly be classified into two categories- Rural unemployment and Urban unemployment.

Types of Unemployment in India

Rural Unemployment

The majority of the rural population in India is dependent on agriculture and allied activities for sustenance. Rural areas face unemployment due to the features inherent in agriculture as an occupation.

Types of Rural Unemployment

Rural unemployment can be further divided into two categories — Disguised unemployment and Seasonal unemployment.

Disguised unemployment

An entire family (or even, an extended family) working on a single farm is a common enough sight in rural India. Even if some of the family members were to be removed from the farm, the agricultural output would not be affected. This suggests that the number of workers engaged in farming is more than what is actually required.

For example, let us say that a piece of land can be cultivated by five people efficiently. However, eight people are engaged in cultivation. Now, if we were to remove three of these people, then there would be no change in the farm produce. In this case, we can say that three of the eight people are in disguised unemployment.

Thus, disguised unemployment refers to the situation in which the number of persons engaged in work is more than what is actually required to complete the work.

In India, disguised unemployment is prevalent due to the following reasons.

  • Joint family system: In a rural joint family system, almost every member of the family is engaged in farming activities on the family farm, irrespective of the requirement. Thus, most of the members remain in disguised unemployment.
  • Lack of alternative employment opportunities: In rural areas, there is a lack of non-farming employment opportunities. As a result, many people remain engaged in agriculture and allied activities even when they do not contribute positively to the output.

Seasonal unemployment

Agriculture is a seasonal occupation. There exists a time lag of approximately 5 to 7 months between the cultivation of two crops. During this time, due to a lack of alternative employment opportunities, farmers remain without any jobs. Similarly, people who engage in post-harvesting activities, find work for only some part of the year. These are examples of seasonal unemployment. Thus, seasonal unemployment refers to the situation in which people are not able to find jobs during certain months of the year.


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