Time Spent on Unpaid Care Work and Women’s Employment Status: Evidence from India

Saumya Tripathi, Fordham University


In India, more than 90% of women carry out unpaid care work (UCW) and domestic duties compared to 27% of men. A significant amount of time is spent by women on UCW which otherwise could be utilized in an economically productive way. As a result, women are time-constrained and face challenges in distributing their time to paid and unpaid activities. The current study uses data from the first comprehensive Indian 2019 Time-use Survey (TUS) to examine whether there is an association between women’s UCW and their employment status and whether this association, if any, differs by age, marital status, education level, and household size, controlling for religion, social group status, household monthly expenditure, and geographical location (e.g., rural vs. urban settings). Using a stratified two-stage design, the TUS included a nationally representative sample of 272,117 individuals in rural areas and 173,182 individuals in urban areas. A multinomial logistic regression model revealed an inverse association between women’s time spent on UCW and their likelihood of employment. An hour increase in women’s time spent on UCW decreased the odds of employment, self-employment, or pursuing higher education by 27%, 38%, and 34%, respectively. A decomposition analysis showed that almost 80% of odds ratios for employment status was due to the women’s increase in time spent on UCW rather than the influence of personal and sociodemographic characteristics. Further analyses demonstrated that the interaction terms between time spent on UCW and potential moderators (i.e., age, marital status, and education) were also significantly associated with women’s employment status. Study findings provide important implications on the provision of care services and employment options for women who spend a substantial amount of time on UCW. Additionally, findings underscore the needs for integrating care provisions into broader economic agendas of the country and addressing the issues of non-employment among women through the mainstream policymaking process. The focus of these policies should encompass multiple areas, for example, integrating care policies with economic policies.

Subject Area

Social work|Womens studies|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Tripathi, Saumya, "Time Spent on Unpaid Care Work and Women’s Employment Status: Evidence from India" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29206257.