Economically active population


The economically active population is that population, which is engaged in daily work of many different kinds (see table below). The 2005 National Population and Housing Census indicated that 66.6% of this population aged 10 years and older were engaged in economic activities during the 12 months prior to the census.

Among those considered “employed” are many self-employed or workers working “on-their-own-account” as well as unpaid family workers, whereas the “unemployed” are those considered as looking for work. It is important to note that household duties are not regarded as economic activities. Normally, the class of economically active people starts at the age 15 years and older however the population census showed that 18% of children between 10 and 14 years are in formal employment while 81% are said to be students. Nevertheless, working children make up 5% of the Lao labour force.

The map presents the percentage distribution of the economically active population aged 10 years and older according to five relative frequency classes. The analysis starts with the lowest percentage class of less than 55% and ends with the highest percentage class of more than 85%. The highest relative values are found mostly in the provinces in the north, the north-west and the south-east of the country.

It is difficult to discern clear spatial patterns on Map G.1.  Isolated districts with a very low rate of economic activity occur all over the country. However, a general trend can be seen in that villages with rates of the economically active population below the national average are found more frequently in urban and easily accessible areas. At the same time we can observe that in remote rural areas the percentage of the economically active population is generally very high.

Total Population
5,621,982 (100%)
10 years
10 years and above
non active population
active population
too old
Table 7: Distribution of the population according to main activities.
Note that the percentage always refers to the next upper entity (shown in lighter shading).
Source: Population and Housing Census, 2005

A possible explanation for this pattern may be found by a consideration of the categories of the economically non-active people (see table above and the following maps). It is obvious that the percentage of non-working students together with those people performing only household duties without being paid is higher in urban areas. Furthermore, the number of older people is generally higher in these areas (compare with Map B.4) whereas in rural areas only a few people probably retire from family work.

In conclusion, two thirds of the population aged 10 years and older is economically active indicating that the Lao PDR uses considerable reserves of human resources. Basically the professional qualification of the people must be a priority in the development of the nation. The fact that annually close to 100,000 people will be entering the job market in the future poses an enormous challenge to economic development and efforts for safeguarding the livelihoods of the people and maintaining social security.




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