Conventionally, persons between 15 and 65 years of age constitute the
working age population and the rest are considered dependents. By this
definition, over 70 per cent of India’s population was in the working age
bracket during September-December 2014. Thus, theoretically at least,
for every dependent person in India there were at least two who could
be working. This is a comfortable ratio.
But, not all persons in the 15-65 years age bracket are working in
the conventional sense of the term “working”, or were occupied in
an activity that would conventionally be classified as a “working”
occupation. Only 46 per cent of this age-bracket was working in this
sense. Some who are well past their working age by this definition
As a result, we find that 33.7 per cent of the population was working
during the period September-December 2014. Another 27.6 per cent were
homemakers, 29.2 per cent were students and the rest were non-schooling
children or retired.
Home-makers is a large proportion of the 15-65 years age-bracket, and
these are rather unfairly classified as “non-working” population. 37
per cent of the people in this age-bracket were home-makers and therefore
are not a part of the working population. The rest of the non-working
population in this age-bracket were largely students.
Retired people, students or non-schooling children are all classified
as non-working people. Most (though not all) of these do not fall in
the 15-65 year age bracket. Students comprise 29 per cent of the total
population, non-schooling children account for another 5.5 per cent and
the retired form 3.3 per cent of the total population.
People take up working occupations gradually in their late teens. Only
14 per cent of 15-20 year old are working and only 40 per cent of those
between 20 and 25 years are working. The working age population rises
to 55 per cent in the 25-55 year age bracket. The proportion of working
persons is the highest at 59 per cent in the age bracket 40 to 45 years.
The proportion of working population drops to 50 per cent in the age
bracket 55-60 years and then to 40 per cent in the age bracket of 60-65
A fairly large proportion of the population continues working even if
after they cross the working age population definition. We find that a
substantial 31 per cent of the population between 65 and 70 years and
a respectable 20 per cent of the population between 70 and 75 years
continue to work.