Men in India capture 82% of labour income, while women earn just 18%, according to the first-ever estimates of the gender inequality in global earnings presented in the World Inequality Report 2022 released earlier this week.
The female share of the total labour income is the national aggregate labour income earned by women relative to the total aggregate of labour income within a country. In a country with perfect equality between women and men, the female labour income share would be equal to 50%. But the report finds that it is below 50% around the world, with significant variations across countries, ranging from below 10% to 45%. The report covered 180 countries between 1991 to 2019.
Female labour income in India of 18.3% is lower than the average for Asia, which was at 27% in 2019.
Eleven countries in the region have values above 30%. Among the neighbours that performed worse than India were Bhutan (17.5%), Bangladesh (16.9%), Pakistan (7.4%), and Afghanistan (4.2%); and those with a higher share were Nepal (23.2%), Sri Lanka (23.3%) and China (33.4%).
The report says that the labour income share held by women depends on two dimensions — their labour force participation compared with men on the one hand, and the gender earnings ratio on the other hand. In India, the female labour participation rate had fallen to 20.3% in 2019 from more than 26% in 2005, according to World Bank estimates. After the pandemic, there was a worsening of female labour participation rate, which fell to 16.1% during the July-September 2020 quarter, according to the Ministry of Statistics.
Eastern Europe has the highest female labour income shares, with the average female share near 41%. Moldova has the highest female labour income in the world at 45%. The Middle East and North Africa exhibit low levels of female labour income share, with an unweighted average of 15%. Yemen has the lowest female labour income of 1%. Female labour income shares are found to be higher on average in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average value of 28%.
Overall, the share of women in total incomes from work neared 30% in 1990 and stands at 34% today.
“Unpaid care work is likely to prevent women from participating in the labour market, and, when they do work, to prevent them from attaining high-paying positions. When paid and unpaid work are combined, women’s contribution to work increases substantially and thus makes the female labour income share appear even more unfair,” states the report.