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Defining Unemployment in Developing Countries: Evidence from Trinidad and Tobago

  • Strobl, Eric


    (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

  • Byrne, David


    (Federal Reserve Board)

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) argues for relaxing the standard definition of unemployment in developing countries by eliminating the requirement that a person be actively searching for a job. We examine whether such an extension of the standard definition is appropriate in the case of Trinidad and Tobago. Specifically, we use the Trinidad and Tobago labour force survey to examine whether active job search is important in determining the labour market transitions of the non-employed. Our results indicate that in Trinidad and Tobago males, who under the standard criteria would be considered out of the labour force because they report willingness to work but are not currently searching for a job, are appropriately classified as unemployed. Further evidence suggests that this may be because job search may not be as meaningful in rural as it is in urban areas.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 659.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Development Economics, 2004, 73 (1), 465-476
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp659
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  1. Stephen R. G. Jones & W. Craig Riddell, 1999. "The Measurement of Unemployment: An Empirical Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 147-162, January.
  2. Geeta G. Kingdon & John B. Knight, 2000. "Are searching and non-searching unemployment distinct states when unemployment is high? The case of South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
  4. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "The Dynamics of Youth Unemployment," NBER Chapters, in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 199-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Christopher J. Flinn & James J. Heckman, 1982. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," NBER Working Papers 0979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert E. Hall, 1970. "Why Is the Unemployment Rate So High at Full Employment?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 1(3), pages 369-410.
  7. Brigitte C. Madrian & Lars John Lefgren, 1999. "A Note on Longitudinally Matching Current Population Survey (CPS) Respondents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Füsun Gönül, 1992. "New Evidence on Whether Unemployment and out of the Labor Force are Distinct States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 329-361.
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