Examining the role of Social Identity, Skills, and Personality in determining Labor Market Mobility in India

This study, by Michiels, Nordman, and Seetahul, combines behaviorist and structuralist views to understand the extent to which individual skills and personality traits facilitate labor market mobility of disadvantaged groups in the presence of constraining social structures.

Based on a rural India case study, results from this paper show that personality traits are important determinants of labor market mobility but also emphasize a strong rigidity of the socioeconomic structure of the Indian labor market in terms of gender and caste, and its relative stillness over time. While for women, literacy, emotional stability, and openness to new experiences appear to allow income gains, these benefits are limited by the labor market structure, maintaining them in low-skilled and casual occupations. For Dalits, emotional stability and agreeableness seem to play an important role in relative income mobility. These interesting findings highlight the segmented nature of the Indian labor market, which is still strongly organized by diverse forms of domination.

Source: Michiels et al. (2021). Many Rivers to Cross: Social Identity, Cognition, and Labour Mobility in Rural India. Institute of Labor Economics.

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