Weekly Economics Seminar by Nandana Sengupta
September 11 @ 1:30 pm - 2:40 pm
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Title: The Skills Space of Informal Workers: Evidence from Bangalore, India
Speaker: Nandana Sengupta, Assistant Professor, IIT Delhi
Abstract: We develop a framework for mapping and analyzing informal worker skills in the developing world. Using microdata from nearly 1500 workers
residing in the slums of Bangalore in India, we also study skill determinants of wage level and wage regularity. Alongside econometric modeling, we employ techniques from machine learning to describe relation-ships between the large number of skills crowdsourced from respondents. We propose to retire the concept of “unskilled labor” by revealing that regular employment in the informal labor market relies not only on general and specialized task skills such as handling cash, cooking, and internet use but also a complex matrix of language, personal and social capacities, ranging from Kannada speaking to punctuality, dressing sense and a tolerance to work in unclean and unsafe environments. Policy implications of the study include in-sights about gender disparities in skill, the importance of English language and computer literacy skills and the central role of personal and social skills in the Indian informal labor market context.