Unemployment burden and its distribution

Working Paper 2014-341


We develop a measure of unemployment that takes into account both the level and intensity of unemployment and that satisfies several desirable properties, including distribution sensitivity (dealing with differences among the unemployed). It can also be decomposed into mean and distributional components and contributions to unemployment by various subgroups of the population. We then apply this measure to understand unemployment in India using data from National Sample Surveys on employment and unemployment during the period 1993-2012. We show that unemployment has generally fallen in this period, but this finding has to be seen in light of considerable underemployment. Moreover, unemployment is driven to a greater extent by higher educated groups; the unemployment among these groups is also fairly substantial. The distribution of unemployment has also worsened. We explain these findings and suggest some policies.

Authors: Sripad Motiram, Karthikeya Naraparaju.

Keywords: Measurement of unemployment, welfare costs of unemployment, distribution sensitivity, Indian unemployment.
JEL: J60, J64, J68.