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Unemployment in Developing Countries: New Light on an Old Problem


  • David Turnham
  • Deniz Eröcal


In the 1960s and 1970s a number of views were formed about unemployment in developing countries, which have remained largely accepted since then. The views can be summarized as three propositions: a) the poor cannot afford to become unemployed; b) labour markets in developing countries are always sufficiently open and flexible for work to be found, so that c) unemployment is a reflection of the search for jobs with high earnings on the part of those able to finance search costs.In contrast, the conclusions of this review are that the poor can be and are increasingly to be found in large numbers among the unemployed; many young people have great difficulty in finding any sort of work, especially regular work; unemployment is high and appears to have been rising over the past 20 years. In sum, in the light of this review of evidence, the conventional wisdom described in the so-called luxury unemployment hypothesis is seriously flawed and should be set aside. Les années 60 et 70 ont vu naître, dans les pays en développement, nombre d'idées sur le chômage, qui, depuis lors, restent largement admises. Trois propositions en résument le contenu : a) les pauvres ne peuvent pas se permettre de devenir chômeurs ; b) le marché du travail dans les pays en développement est toujours suffisamment ouvert et flexible pour qu'on y trouve du travail ; c) de ce fait, le chômage provient de la recherche d'emplois à hauts salaires de la part des couches sociales capables de financer le coût de leur quête de travail.Contrairement aux idées reçues, cette étude conclut que ce sont les pauvres qui figurent, et ce, de façon croissante, parmi les chômeurs ; quantité de jeunes éprouvent de grandes difficultés à trouver quelque travail que ce soit, surtout un emploi régulier ; le chômage est élevé et n'a cessé de progresser au cours des vingt dernières années. L'hypothèse d'un chômage qu'on pourrait appeler "de luxe" se révèle donc insuffisante, voire ...

Suggested Citation

  • David Turnham & Deniz Eröcal, 1990. "Unemployment in Developing Countries: New Light on an Old Problem," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 22, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:22-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Guang, Y., 1999. "Facing unemployment : urban layoffs and the way out in post-reform China (1993-1999) : an empirical and theoretical analysis," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19053, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    2. Shuaizhang Feng & Yingyao Hu & Robert Moffitt, 2015. "Long Run Trends in Unemployment and Labor Force Participation in China," NBER Working Papers 21460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gustavo Adolfo García, 2010. "Evolución de la informalidad laboral en Colombia: determinantes macro y efectos locales," ARCHIVOS DE ECONOMÍA 006449, DEPARTAMENTO NACIONAL DE PLANEACIÓN.
    4. Cunningham, Wendy V & Maloney, William F, 2001. "Heterogeneity among Mexico's Microenterprises: An Application of Factor and Cluster Analysis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 131-156, October.
    5. Bino Paul G.D, 2009. "India Labour Market Report 2008," Working Papers id:1943, eSocialSciences.
    6. Stephen Drinkwater & Paul Levine & Emanuela Lotti, 2006. "Labour Market and Investment Effects of Remittances," School of Economics Discussion Papers 1906, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
    7. Maloney, William F., 1998. "The structure of labor markets in developing countries : time series evidence on competing views," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1940, The World Bank.
    8. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.

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