A National Statistical Office survey has revealed that 91.8% of women in India between the ages of 15 and 59 participated in unpaid domestic work for household members in 2019. On the other hand, only 20.6% of men participated in such unpaid domestic activity. Overall, 79.8% of females aged above six years participated in unpaid domestic work for household members in 2019. The figure was just 17.9% for men.

The survey, “Time Use in India-2019”, conducted between January and December 2019, showed that 57.1% of males above the age of six participated in employment activities, compared to just 18.3% of women. The participation rate in a day in any activity is defined as the percentage of persons performing that activity during the 24 hours of the reference period, according to the study.

The study, a first-of-its-kind survey conducted in India, collected information on time use from families in India from those aged 6 years and above. It provided a picture of time spent by people on various activities, including paid, unpaid and care-giving activities.

The survey showed that India’s overall participation rate in unpaid activities was 63.6% and that the average time spent by a person on it was 289 minutes. The participation rate in unpaid activities for rural women was 85%, while that of urban women was 81.7%. In the same category, the participation rate for rural men was 47.8%, while for urban men, it was 35.1%.

India’s participation rate in paid activities was 36.2% and the average time spent on it by a person stood at 413 minutes. Both urban men with a 58.1% participation rate and rural males with 53.4% were far better off in this category compared to women, the survey showed. The urban women’s participation rate was 15.5%, while that of rural females was 17.7%.

The study showed that the participation rate decreased for time spent in studying as the children grew older. In the 6-14 age bracket, participants spent 430 minutes and the overall rate stood at 85.9%. However, for the age group of 15-29, the participation rate was 29.2%.

The figures for males and females in the 6-14 age group were similar, with the rate at 85.4% for females in rural areas compared with 86.4% for males, and 86.4% for females in urban areas compared with 85.1% for males.

In rural areas, 22% of the time used in activities was spent on production of goods for own final use. This was much higher than in urban areas, where the corresponding figure was just 5.8%. Overall, India’s participation rate in this category was 17.1%. The time in minutes in rural areas was 158, and in urban areas just 85. In both urban and rural areas, men spent more activity time on production of goods for use by themselves, than women did.

Leisure activities and community participation

The study also showed that the rate of the urban population participating in leisure activities, including mass-media and sports, was relatively higher when compared to the rural population. The urban population participation rate was 92.4% and they spent 176 minutes on average on these activities, while that of the rural populace was 84.6%, and the time in minutes 159. India’s overall participation rate in leisure activities was 86.9%, and the time 165 minutes.

Further, the participation rate for Indians aged above six years on time spent in socialising and communication, community participation and religious practices was 91.3%. The rural participation rate was 91.5% and the urban population’s rate was 91%.

The survey covered 1,38,799 households, including 82,897 houses in rural areas 55,902 in urban regions. As many as 4,47,250 persons of ages 6 years and above were surveyed. This included 2,73,195 people from rural areas and 1,74,055 from urban regions. All of India was covered in the survey except the villages in Andaman and Nicobar islands, which the study said were “difficult to access”.