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Who Is Employed ? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa on Redefining Employment


  • Gaddis,Isis
  • Siwatu,Gbemisola Oseni
  • Palacios-Lopez,Amparo
  • Pieters,Janneke


The 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (in 2013) redefined labor statistics standards. A major change was to narrow the definition of employment to work for pay or profit. By the revised standards, farming that is only or mainly intended for own use is no longer considered employment, and such a farmer is no longer considered to be employed or in the labor force. This paper analyzes the implications of the revised standards on measures of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa obtained from multi-topic household surveys. It shows that, in some contexts, 70 to 80 percent of farmers produce only or mainly for family consumption and are therefore, based on this activity, not considered employed by the revised standards. However, there is wide variation across countries and regions. Moreover, farmers are more likely to report intending to produce for sale at the end of the growing season of the main local crop than earlier in the season. Men are more likely than women to produce for sale. The revised standards lead to significantly lower employment-to-population ratios in rural Africa and change the sectoral composition of the employed population toward non-agricultural sectors. The paper concludes with recommendations for data producers and users.

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  • Gaddis,Isis & Siwatu,Gbemisola Oseni & Palacios-Lopez,Amparo & Pieters,Janneke, 2020. "Who Is Employed ? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa on Redefining Employment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9370, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:9370

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Food Security; Livestock and Animal Husbandry; Climate Change and Agriculture; Crops and Crop Management Systems; Labor&Employment Law; Labor Markets;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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