The average monthly income of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities is Rs 5,000 less than those belonging to other categories, a report by non-governmental organisation Oxfam India has found.

The report, titled India Discrimination Report 2022, also found that on an average, men earn Rs 4,000 more in a month than women. The average monthly income of Muslims was Rs 7,000 less than non-Muslims, according to the report.

The report focuses on discrimination faced by socio-religious and gender groups in access to means of employment, healthcare and credit facilities as well as in wages paid to them.

“Educational and wealth inequality or access to means of employment alone do not address the fractures in Indian society that perpetuate inequalities across age, gender, castes and religions,” the report noted. “Understood this way, inequality is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for discrimination.”

The report said that endowment factors such as years of education, age and education of the household head significantly affect earnings. While members of the SC and ST communities had similar levels of education as others, the difference in salary in most cases (41%) was due to discrimination.

In terms on religion, the report said that non-Muslims have an advantage over Muslims due to factors such as education and age, resulting in them having higher earnings.

In the 2019-’20 period, 15.6% of the urban Muslim population aged 15 and above had regular salaried jobs while the figure was 23.3% for non-Muslims. The lower employment for urban Muslims is attributed to discrimination in 68% of the cases.

In terms of gender, the report said that men earn Rs 19,779 per month on average in salaried or regular employment while women make Rs 15,578.

It said that the discrimination component in this case was 67% that goes down to 54% when only the age group of 25 years and above is considered. This, the report said, suggests that younger women below 25 “tend to get more discriminated against and that age or experience improves their ability to bargain for better pay”.

Discrimination in wages and earning in percentage. (Credit: Oxfam India/ Periodic Labour Force Survey and National Sample Survey Office)

Other findings

  • Self-employed members of SC and ST communities earn Rs 2,000 less than non-members with 78% of this gap attributed to discrimination.
  • Gender-based discrimination is the reason for 98% of the employment gap between men and women.
  • The unemployment rate in rural areas doubled and that in urban areas became about two-and-a-half-times in the first quarter of the pandemic, i.e. between April and June 2020.
  • In rural areas, sharpest increase in unemployment was for Muslims by 17% in the first quarter of the pandemic.
  • In 2017, persons belonging to bottom 20% income group who were from Scheduled Caste and Schedules Tribe utilised 1.7 times lesser hospital care compared to Other Backward Class and others in the same income group.


Oxfam India has been using a method called decomposition analysis to assess discrimination based on caste, religion and gender since 2004-’05.

The analysis method divides the gap in any socioeconomic outcome, such as employment, earnings, access to credit, health facilities between two groups into two parts. This gap is attributed to endowment factors or discrimination.

If the result shows that a high percentage of the gap in outcome between two
groups is due to because of endowment factors such as level of education and work experience, it is considered that discrimination is low.

However, when the endowment factors are similar but there is a wide gap in the outcome, it is attributed to discrimination.

Oxfam India used the 61st round national sample survey data on employment-unemployment (2004-’05), Periodic Labour Force Survey in 2018-’19 and 2019-’20 and All India Debt and Investment Survey in 1991, 2002 and 2012 and national sample survey on social consumption, Health (2004, 2014 and 2017-’18) for the study.