Data for Development
January 2019
W elcome to the India Human Development Survey Forum

A monthly update of socio-economic developments in India by the IHDS research community

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We would like to wish the entire IHDS community a very Happy New Year. Looking forward to an even more fulfilling year of research and engagement with IHDS in 2019!
In this issue...
The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) continues to engage and inspire researchers throughout the world because of the vast array of data it offers through its spectrum of education, health, economy, family, and gender modules for both urban and rural samples across the country. In this first edition of the new year, the IHDS newsletter focuses on two cohorts whose socio-economic characteristics and behaviours have for long engrossed researchers across disciplines—married women and the elderly.

  • The first paper finds a worrying correlation between chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart problems and hypertension, on one hand, and disabilities among the elderly population in India, on the other hand. The authors advocate the timely management of morbidities to ameliorate the possibility of disabilities later in life.

  • The second paper explores the dynamics of accessing non-farm employment for married women living in joint families in rural India, and concludes that such women find it difficult to enter the labour market because of social constraints. 

  • Media Mentions

  • Recent publications using IHDS
Research Findings Based on IHDS Data
Chronic morbidity and reported disability among older persons from the India Human Development Survey
Nandita Saikia and Mukesh Parmar

This paper quantifies the association between chronic morbidities and overall disabilities in the activities of daily living (ADLs) among elderly people in India. It also investigates how various chronic morbidities influence individual ADLs, specifically, walking, toileting, and dressing. Using data from the India Human Development Survey-II (IHDS-II), the authors found that 9 million or 17.91 per cent of the total male population and 14 million or 26.21 per cent of the total female population aged 60 years and above experience disability in these areas. The most recent Census, of 2011, suggests that just 5 per cent of the elderly population suffers from a disability. However, the prevalence of disability is much higher among widowed women, and among the poor and illiterate. The authors found a statistically significant connection between chronic morbidity or long-term health conditions, and disability. They studied three such conditions—diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Of these, diabetes had the highest correlation to disability, followed by high blood pressure, and heart disease. The study concludes that since chronic morbidity is a decisive factor in old age disability, it is crucial to reduce it in a timely manner to minimise the enormous associated burden of disability in India.
Nandita Saikia is currently an Assistant Professor of Population Studies at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, with seven years’ experience in teaching and research. She is also a post-doctoral researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Her research interests include population health and mortality, indirect demographic estimation, disability analysis, and undocumented immigration, among other things. At JNU, she teaches courses on Demographic and Statistical Methods to MPhil and PhD students. Prior to working at JNU, she was an Assistant Professor at the Population Research Centre, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. She was a Max Planck India Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany, from 2012 to 2016.
She received her PhD in Population Studies from the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and her MA in Statistics from Gauhati University, Assam. 
Mukesh C. Parmar is pursuing his PhD in Population Studies at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, under the guidance of Dr Nandita Saikia. He received his MPhil from the same university and MA from the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai. His research interests include health and mortality, morbidity, disability and ageing.
Family structure, education and women's employment in rural India
Sowmya Dhanaraj and Vidya Mahambare

This paper investigates if residing in a joint family affects non-farm employment for married women in rural India, and if it does, the channels through which women’s labour force participation is restricted in a joint family set-up. The paper thus addresses one of the under-researched areas in an otherwise vast literature on the declining female labour force participation in India, namely the role of societal and cultural factors on women’s ability to join paid employment.
The authors’ estimates are based on a longitudinal survey of over 27,000 women conducted in 2004–05 and 2011–12 for the India Human Development Survey (IHDS). Using the conditional logistic regression and instrumental variable approach, the authors suggest that living in a joint family lowers married women’s participation in non-farm work by around 12 percentage points and working hours per year by around 250 hours. The adverse impact is higher for younger women, including for those belonging to families with higher social status, for those residing in northern India, and for younger daughters-in-law in a joint family. The results of this paper for women in rural India are in contrast with evidence from countries such as China and Japan, where a joint family acts as a support system for childcare and for the sharing of household work, thereby allowing women to move into formal employment. The authors suggest that public policies encouraging higher education, improving job accessibility, and offering affordable childcare will help raise non-farm employment, which has increasingly been the main source of new jobs, for women living in rural India.
Sowmya Dhanaraj is currently Assistant Professor at the Madras School of Economics. Her research interests include applied microeconomics and development economics with a particular focus on labour, gender, and health issues, among others. She has published extensively in various journals including Health Policy and Planning , International Journal of Educational Development , Journal of Financial Economic Policy , and Journal of Quantitative Economics . She had interned and been a visiting scholar at the United Nations University-World Institute of Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER). She obtained her PhD from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Studies, Mumbai.
Vidya Mahambare is Professor of Economics and Finance at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, and is Programme Director for the MBA programme at the Institute. Her current areas of interest include study of gender issues, impact of culture on economic and social outcomes, and financial inclusion. Earlier, she was a Director and Principal Economist at one of India’s largest credit rating agencies, CRISIL, and prior to that, she was with the Cardiff Business School, UK. She has published in Oxford Economic Papers , Transnational Corporations , and the Journal of Quantitative Economics , among others. She received a PhD in Economics from the Lancaster Management School, UK.
IHDS in the News

  • Navya, P.K. “Caring for Elderly Citizens: What is the Scene in Bengaluru?”, Citizen Matters, 19 December, 2018. Link.

  • Davies, Emmerich. “Time to Fix the School-to-work Transition”, Business Line, 18 December, 2018. Link.

  • Barman, Paramananda. “All May Not be Well with India’s Ageing Population”, Research Matters, 13 December, 2018. Link.

  • International Institutes for Applied Systems Analysis. “Disability among India’s Elderly Much Higher than Census Estimates”, Medical Express, 6 December, 2018. Link. And also in the Quint. Link.

  • Nagaland Post. “Quota Vote Bank”, Nagaland Post, 4 December, 2018. Link.
  • Pillai, Varsha. “Opinion| Can Skill India Solve the Decline in Female Labour Force Participation?”, Money Control, 4 December, 2018. Link.
Recent Publications Using IHDS

  • Acharya, R.H. and A.C. Sadath. (2019). “Energy Poverty and Economic Development: Household-level Evidence from India.” Energy and Buildings, 183, 785-791. doi: Accessed on December 4, 2018. Link.

  • Ravindran, S. (2018). “Parental Investments and Early Childhood Development: Short and Long-run Evidence from India.” Job Market Paper. Accessed on December 4, 2018. Link.

About IHDS
The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) is a nationally representative, multi-topic survey of 41,554 households in 1503 villages and 971 urban neighbourhoods across India. The first round of interviews was completed in 2004-05; data are publicly available through ICPSR. A second round of IHDS re-interviewed most of these households in 2011-12 (N=42,152) and data for the same can be found here.

IHDS has been jointly organised by researchers from the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi. Funding for the second round of this survey is provided by the National Institutes of Health, grants R01HD041455 and R01HD061048. Additional funding is provided by The Ford Foundation, IDRC and DFID.
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