During April-June 2022, the time of the latest survey, the female wage rate ranged across states from just over half to 93.7% of male wages in rural India and from just under half to 100.8% in cities.
A comparison of these wages with NSSO’s 68th round report (July 2011 – June 2012) shows that for most states, the gender divide in wages has increased in the rural areas. Urban areas on the other hand have witnessed a narrowing of this gap in the past decade.
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Among large states, the gap is the highest for both rural and urban regions of Kerala. The average wage rate of rural males is Rs 842 a day, also the country’s highest. Female workers of the state’s rural areas are paid Rs 434 a day. While this too is the highest among large states, it is only 51.5% of men’s wages.
Gender wage gap is widest in Kerala
Among large states, the gap in wages for similar work between men and women is the highest for both rural and urban regions of Kerala. The average wage rate of rural males is Rs 842 a day, also the country’s highest. Female workers of the state’s rural areas are paid Rs 434 a day. While this too is the highest among large states, it is only 51.5% of men’s wages, shows the report, Women and Men in India 2022, released by National Statistical Office.
Interestingly the three states that have the highest daily wage rates for rural males — Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — also have the widest gender gap in wages. For all three, female wages average less than 60% of male wages.
In Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha, female rural wage rates were under 70% of the male workers.
Except for Karnataka, which has among the highest male wage rates, daily wages are less than Rs 400 in the other five.
In four states – Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan – the male wage rate is more than Rs 400 a day and the gender divide is among the lowest (female wages being more than 85% of male wages). Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand too have a lower gender divide (female wages being at least 80% of male wages) but this is more a case of males too being paid very low rates rather than women getting decent wages.
For many states, urban areas show a similar pattern as a higher wage rate for men seems to increase the gender divide while the divide is narrower in low wage states. Once again, the gender gap in urban wages is the highest in Kerala, which also had the highest wage rate for men. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu too have high wage rates for men and a big gender divide. In contrast, the overall wage rate is among the lowest for Gujarat, Odisha and Jharkhand and so is the divide.
Like in rural areas, the urban areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh are again exceptions – all having relatively higher overall wages as well as a relatively lower wage gap between men and women. Comparison with 2011-12 shows that in the rural areas, the gender gap in wages has widened in 11 of the 19 large states, with the gap increasing by more than 10 percentage points in West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.