Abstract: Time Spent on Unpaid Care Work and Women’s Employment Status: Evidence from India (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 2 - Room 444, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Saumya Tripathi, MPhil, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Fordham University, New York, NY
Fuhua Zhai, PhD
Sameena Azhar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY

In India more than 90% of women carry out unpaid care work (UCW) compared to 27% of men. UCW not only influences whether or not women participate in the labor force, but also drives women’s choices in terms of the type of work in which they choose to engage. Extant research has failed to address the impact of UCW on women’s employment status in India. The current study examines 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, geographical location (e.g., rural vs. urban settings), and one member of age 5 years and above needing special care but no formal care giving is available.


Using a stratified two-stage design, the 2019 Indian Time-Use Survey included a nationally representative sample of 272,117 individuals in rural areas and 173,182 individuals in urban areas. Using Phyton programming we decoded the dataset that was originally in bytes. A multinomial logistic regression model was used to analyze the likelihood of women’s employment, using UCW as the primary predictor of interest. The moderation analysis were conducted by entering the interactions between time spent on UCW and potential moderators (i.e., age, marital status, education, and household size). To decompose the total effects of the UCW time on employment status in the regression models into the sum of the direct effects and indirect effects, we also utilized the Karlson-Holm-Breen (KHB) method.


One 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%. This implies that women who spend higher time on UCW were more likely to be non-employed (OR = 0,73, 0.62, 0.66; P < 0.00, CI 0.61-0.62;0.73-0.74;0.65-0.67). Age and marital status were found as the significant moderator influencing this relationship. In particular, if women in the age group of 26-45 years, spend six hours on UCW, their likelihood of being non-employed is closer to 70%, and if they spend 12.5 hours or more on UCW, their likelihood of being non-employed is closer to 100%. According to KHB results, almost 80% of odds ratios for being employed compared to being non-employed was due to women’s increase in time spent on UCW after taking into account the influence of personal and sociodemographic characteristics.

Conclusions and implications

This study is the first attempt to investigate factors associated with women’s employment and unpaid care work, using the first comprehensive Indian 2019 Time-Use Survey. The study differs from previous research as it addresses methodological concerns by employing decomposition methods. Finally, it is a novel contribution towards understanding how to improve social services, labor policies, and caregiving resources in India, including state-sponsored care services. Additionally, the study highlights the need for integrating care provisions into broader economic agendas and address the issue of non-employment among women through the mainstream policymaking process.