Female Domestic Workers: Income Determinants and Empowerment Correlates—A Case Study


This paper deploys the information of 300 female domestic workers who work to make up the difference between subsistence requirements and the total earnings of the family. The determinants of monthly income of the workers are age, type of work, total family members, per-capita monthly household income, year of schooling and number of houses serviced. Low wages, low level of education, less control over assets and income, verbal and physical abuse and the absence of social security are reflected in their weak bargaining power which results in a low level of empowerment. Women’s earnings do not always ensure empowerment, especially when the wages are low. Meaningful legal safeguards, welfare measures and other provisions for empowerment must be inducted in modern society to reduce injustices, deprivations and indignities towards female domestic workers.

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  1. 1.

    An Indian labour law that aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

  2. 2.

    Monthly per-capita household income (in Rs)

    800–170035 (10.48)
    1800–270084 (25.15)
    2800–3700117 (35.03)
    3800–470052 (15.57)
    4800–570027 (8.08)
    5800–670019 (5.69)
  3. 3.

    PMJDY is a financial inclusion programme of Government of India which is applicable to 18–65 years of age group that aims to expand and make affordable access to financial services such as bank accounts, remittances, credit, insurance and pensions. This financial inclusion campaign was launched by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 15 August 2014.


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We thank the anonymous reviewer and the Editor for their insightful comments and suggestions for the improvement of our manuscript. SB acknowledges the financial support from the UGC Minor Research Project (PHW-120/14-15 (ERO) dated 02 February 2015). This is a part of the doctoral research of the first author (SB).

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Correspondence to Sanghita Bhattacharjee.

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Bhattacharjee, S., Goswami, B. Female Domestic Workers: Income Determinants and Empowerment Correlates—A Case Study. Ind. J. Labour Econ. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41027-020-00223-8

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  • Female domestic workers
  • Informal
  • Empowerment
  • Cumulative Empowerment Index
  • South 24 Parganas

JEL Classification

  • J160
  • J460
  • J310
  • R23