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MGNREGA in Assam: Who are Taking up Employment?
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is functional in almost all rural districts of India guaranteeing wage employment on demand. The main intention behind launching MGNREGA was to provide some minimum level of employment security to the poorest rural households. However, it has been found that only a fraction of households registered under the Act actually demands employment. This paper studies the latter for some distinctive socio-economic characteristics so as to deduce targeting efficiency of MGNREGA across India in general and in the State of Assam in particular. Findings of the paper suggest that it is the poorer and underprivileged regions as well as households who constitute the bulk of those demanding MGNREGA employment. Low income, poor material conditions, social backwardness, low levels of literacy and absence of stable source of income have been found to be significant in determining MGNREGA participation. Moreover, there is considerable participation by people past the conventional working age of 65 years as well as from women who are otherwise not part of the formal workforce. Thus, it is found that MGNREGA is reaching out to most of its intended beneficiaries, i.e., people who are prone to high degree of livelihood insecurities.
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