Labor force participation rate, total (% of total population ages 15+) (modeled ILO estimate)

Definition: Labor force participation rate is the proportion of the population ages 15 and older that is economically active: all people who supply labor for the production of goods and services during a specified period.

Description: The map below shows how Labor force participation rate, total (% of total population ages 15+) (modeled ILO estimate) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Tanzania, with a value of 89.10. The country with the lowest value in the world is Timor-Leste, with a value of 37.80.

Source: International Labour Organization, Key Indicators of the Labour Market database.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Estimates of women in the labor force and employment are generally lower than those of men and are not comparable internationally, reflecting that demographic, social, legal, and cultural trends and norms determine whether women's activities are regarded as economic. In many countries many women work on farms or in other family enterprises without pay, and others work in or near their homes, mixing work and family activities during the day. Labor force statistics by gender is important to monitor gender disparities in employment patterns.

Limitations and Exceptions: Data on the labor force are compiled by the ILO from labor force surveys, censuses, establishment censuses and surveys, and administrative records such as employment exchange registers and unemployment insurance schemes. For some countries a combination of these sources is used. Labor force surveys are the most comprehensive source for internationally comparable labor force data. They can cover all non-institutionalized civilians, all branches and sectors of the economy, and all categories of workers, including people holding multiple jobs. By contrast, labor force data from population censuses are often based on a limited number of questions on the economic characteristics of individuals, with little scope to probe. The resulting data often differ from labor force survey data and vary considerably by country, depending on the census scope and coverage. Establishment censuses and surveys provide data only on the employed population, not unemployed workers, workers in small establishments, or workers in the informal sector. The reference period of a census or survey is another important source of differences: in some countries data refer to people's status on the day of the census or survey or during a specific period before the inquiry date, while in others data are recorded without reference to any period. In developing countries, where the household is often the basic unit of production and all members contribute to output, but some at low intensity or irregularly, the estimated labor force may be much smaller than the numbers actually working. Differing definitions of employment age also affect comparability. For most countries the working age is 15 and older, but in some countries children younger than 15 work full- or part-time and are included in the estimates. Similarly, some countries have an upper age limit. As a result, calculations may systematically over- or underestimate actual rates.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: The labor force is the supply of labor available for producing goods and services in an economy. It includes people who are currently employed and people who are unemployed but seeking work as well as first-time job-seekers. Not everyone who works is included, however. Unpaid workers, family workers, and students are often omitted, and some countries do not count members of the armed forces. Labor force size tends to vary during the year as seasonal workers enter and leave. Usually active population is measured in relation to a long reference period such as a year, and the currently active population (labor force) is measured in relation to a short reference period such as one day or one week. The labor force participation rates are the ILO estimates the International Labour Organization from the ILO's Key Indicators of the Labour Market database. The series includes both nationally reported and imputed data. These harmonized estimates use strict data selection criteria and enhanced methods to ensure comparability across countries and over time to avoid the inconsistencies mentioned resulting from data source, definition, reference period, coverage, and age group. Estimates are based mainly on nationally representative labor force surveys, with other sources (population censuses and nationally reported estimates) used only when no survey data are available. National estimates are also available in the WDI database. The data are mostly estimated by the ILO, and may differ from national estimates.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: The labor force participation rates presented here are the ILO estimates from the ILO's Key Indicators of the Labour Market database and may differ from national estimates. The series includes both nationally reported and imputed data. These harmonized estimates use strict data selection criteria and enhanced methods to ensure comparability across countries and over time. Estimates are based mainly on nationally representative labor force surveys, with other sources (population censuses and nationally reported estimates) used only when no survey data are available. Caution should be used when comparing ILO estimates against national estimates.