Talk on Will India Fulfill the Aspirations of its Young? Jobs, Inequalities and the Changing Political Economy

Will India fulfil the Aspirations of its Young? Jobs, Inequalities and the Changing Political Economy

Talk by Jayan Jose Thomas, Professor of Economics, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

The young in India and South Asia (who accounted for 21% and 29% respectively of the worldwide population of 15 to 29-year-olds in 2020) can be a fulcrum for future economic growth globally. However, this paper — which analyses data from India’s official employment surveys and from field studies of workers — argues that the optimism must be tempered. Historically determined inequalities persist in the subcontinent along the lines of gender, caste and other social categories. Reinforcing such structural imbalances is the low rate at which decent jobs are being created in modern sectors of the economy. In India, there has been a significant increase in enrolment in secondary and tertiary education, with the number of adult students (aged 15 years and above) rising to more than 120 million by 2018. However, only a small fraction of the educated youth find ‘regular’ jobs that provide some form of social security, while the rest earn their livelihoods in low-wage sectors. Close to a half of women (15 years and above) reported that they were not in the labour force but instead were attending to ‘domestic duties’ within their own households. Increasing public expenditures on health, education and other social sectors will be crucial for boosting aggregate demand and realizing the demographic dividend in South Asia.

Brief Bio
Jayan Jose Thomas is a Professor of Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, where he has been employed since July 2010. Jayan had also served as a Member of the State Planning Board, Government of Kerala during 2016-2021. Through his research, Jayan has tried to address development problems, particularly those related to labour and industrialization, from a macroeconomic perspective. Indian economy, issues in international development, and macroeconomic theory have been among his core research and teaching interests over the years. Jayan completed his PhD in development economics from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai (2005), and holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Kerala University (1995). His previous academic positions include a four-year-long stint with the National University of Singapore. Jayan’s research papers have appeared in reputed journals including World Development, Development and Change, and Economic and Political Weekly. Jayan contributes regularly to media outlets including the Hindu, the Mint, and the Frontline, and his research has been cited widely, including in the international media.