Jobless growth and structural transformation: Some theoretical considerations and empirical evidence from India

Zico Dasgupta and Amit Basole, Azim Premji University

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The decoupling of output growth and employment growth, known popularly as “jobless growth” has been a problem plaguing many countries. Using cross-country data, we show that India has underperformed significantly on job creation compared to the average developing country with lower than average employment elasticities at both the aggregate level and for the non-agricultural sector. Strikingly, we find a one-for-one relationship between output growth and productivity growth in India’s non-agricultural sector, i.e. a Kaldor-Verdoorn coefficient of one. Despite this joblessness of growth, the Indian economy has experienced some structural transformation with the share of the non-agricultural sector and the share of regular wage employment rising at the expense of agriculture and self-employment. We develop a theoretical model which clarifies the relative roles of labour demand and labour supply in determining the output-employment relationship. In this model, the Indian case of some structural transformation even with jobless growth emerges as one case among four possible cases (growth with or without jobs / structural change or no structural change). We conclude with some policy implications.

Keywords: Jobless growth, structural change, India, gender
Suggested citation:
Dasgupta, Zico, and Amit Basole. 2023. “Jobless Growth and Structural Transformation: Some Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Evidence from India.” Centre for Sustainable Employment Working Paper #54. Azim Premji University, Bangalore.