Population Census 2005 - Economic activity and labour force
Chapter 5: Economic activity and labour force
The 2005 census measures, like the 1995 census, the activity status of the Lao population by the approach of “the usually active population”, which means the main activity during the past 12 months. This approach was chosen instead of the “currently active population” usually referred to the status for the past week, because it represents a more stable measure of the economically active population and its structural distribution for economic analysis, projections and development planning. The activity status has been measured for the population 10 years and above. It thus includes children who have still not finished school because many children normally participate in agriculture or other types of economic activity.
The first question asked was:
What was your main activity the last twelve months?
- Paid Employee/Government (01)
- Paid Employee/Parastatal (02)
- Paid Employee/Private (03)
- Paid Employee/State Enterprise (04)
- Employer (05)
- Own Account Worker (06)
- Unpaid Family Worker (07)
- Unemployed (08)
- Student (09)
- Household Duties (10)
- Retired/Sick/Too Old (11)
- Other (12)
A person with response alternatives 01-08 is considered to be economically active, alternative 08 with the assumption that the person actually is looking for a job. Students (09) and persons whose main activity is household duties (10), retired/sickness/too old (11) are together with the other response alternatives considered to fall in the category “economically not active population”.
The usually active population, or the labor force, comprises all persons who are 10 years and above and who are either employed or unemployed specified as 01 to 08 in the above list.
5.1. The Labor Force in 2005
What should be noted first is that the population 10 years and above has increased with just over 1 million people since 1995, while children under 10 are only slightly more (23 000). For the population 10 years and above it is the economically not active population that has become 400 000 more (44 percent increase), in particular more students and people with household duties as main activity. The economically active population 560 000 more (up with 25 percent).
As the figure above illustrates, the active population is divided into two categories, those who were employed and those who were unemployed but looking for work during the past 12 months. Among those employed the majority is (still) self-employed, own account workers mainly in agriculture and unpaid family workers. The employed can be divided into seven categories with the numbers according to the following table.
The changes since 1995 census is illustrated in figure 5.2. The dominance of self-employed is evident but the last 10 years has also seen an upswing in the private sector, although from a low level. Government staff has increased but employment in state enterprises and parastatals declined.
The following table presents the distribution of economically active and non-economically active population by sex, those who were 10-14 and 15 years and over in 2005. It can be seen that only few population aged 10 to 14 years were economically active and of those active in this group girls outnumber boys and the main activity is “unpaid family workers”.
5.2. Provincial comparisons
Participation in labor force varies considerably between provinces. In comparing with Savannakhet and Saravane province, Vientiane capital covers more of proportion of number of economic activities employees. It can be noted that the definition for economically active population included own account workers and unpaid family workers, those covered large proportion. In rural areas without access to road 73 percent of the population 10 years and above are active, a rate that is down to 69 percent in rural areas with road and to 56 percent in urban areas.
5.3. Employment and Level of Education
Employment cross-tabulated with education level is presented in table 5.2.1. Higher education can obviously explain a higher rate of employment than lower levels of education. This difference is most clear for men where the activity rate lies at 86 percent compared to 74 percent for women. However, for people with basic education the figures are not conclusive, partly because the population 10 years and above encompasses large numbers of people at school.
5.4. Agriculture and Non- Agriculture Occupation
Table 5.7 presents the results from a question about the main occupation in the last 12 months divided into various types of farming and non-farm activities. Farming is the dominant sector of the economy in all provinces except Vientiane Capital where 65 percent of those economically active persons are occupied in non-farm activities. This is further illustrated in figure 5.4. Within agriculture only a small fraction has livestock farming as the main activity, while mixed farming (crop and livestock production) is more frequent in Xiengkhuang, Xaysomboon SR, Xayaboury and Luangprabang than in other provinces.