CSDS Survey Unveils Unemployment as Primary Voter Concern

Voter Anxiety Peaks as Unemployment and Inflation Take Center Stage Ahead of Lok Sabha Elections.

As the Lok Sabha elections approach, a recent pre-poll survey conducted by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) sheds light on the paramount concerns of Indian voters, highlighting escalating prices and unemployment as focal points.

The survey, canvassing opinions from a diverse array of demographics spanning rural, urban, and peri-urban areas, underscores the formidable challenge of securing employment. Notably, 62 percent of respondents expressed the growing difficulty in finding work, with men registering a slightly higher concern at 65 percent compared to 59 percent among women. Conversely, a mere 12 percent perceived an uptick in job opportunities.

Breakdowns by demographic revealed significant apprehensions regarding job accessibility, with 67 percent of Muslims, 63 percent of Hindus from Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and 59 percent of Scheduled Tribes (ST) sharing similar concerns. Among upper castes, 57 percent found job acquisition challenging, while only 17 percent considered it easier.

In terms of accountability, opinions were divided, with 21 percent attributing responsibility to the Centre, 17 percent to state governments, and a majority of 57 percent holding both entities accountable.

ILO Report Highlights Youth Unemployment Trends

The CSDS survey coincides with findings from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), spotlighting a concerning trend in youth unemployment. The report reveals that over 80 percent of India’s unemployed demographic comprises its youth. Notably, the proportion of young individuals with secondary education or higher among the unemployed surged from 35.2 percent in 2000 to 65.7 percent in 2022.

Youth with graduate degrees faced the highest unemployment rates, significantly impacting women. In 2022, unemployed women, not engaged in employment, education, or training, constituted nearly five times the proportion of their male counterparts, comprising around 95 percent of the total youth population in this category.

Inflation Emerges as a Pressing Concern

In addition to unemployment, inflation emerged as a significant concern among voters. The CSDS poll revealed that 26 percent attributed inflation to the Centre, 12 percent to state governments, and a majority of 56 percent to both. A staggering 71 percent of voters noted an increase in commodity prices, disproportionately affecting economically disadvantaged individuals, Muslims, and Scheduled Castes.

Quality of Life and Corruption Perceptions

On the broader spectrum of quality of life, opinions varied, with 48 percent noting improvement while 35 percent observed deterioration over the past five years. Financially, only 22 percent reported being able to save from their household income, while 36 percent claimed to meet their needs without the capacity to save.

Concerns regarding corruption were also prevalent, with 55 percent of respondents indicating an increase over the past five years. Of these, 25 percent attributed it to the Centre and 16 percent to state governments.

The Lokniti-CSDS Pre-Poll Survey 2024 garnered responses from 10,019 individuals across 19 states. Conducted in 400 polling stations spread across 100 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) in 100 Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs), the survey provides valuable insights into the electorate’s priorities and concerns ahead of the upcoming elections.

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