ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Labour: South Asia in Comparison

South Asia in Comparison That employment in Asia has not kept pace with its remarkable economic growth rate is well known. Although the rate of unemployment in the region (4.4 per cent in 2004) may appear to be among the lowest in the world, the anomalies and peculiarities characterising the labour market, such as a large informal sector, underemployment and low skill levels, mask the extent of the problem. According to a new ILO report, south Asia fares badly in terms of qualitative and quantitative labour indicators and compares poorly on these counts to countries both in east and south-east Asia (Labour and Social Trends in Asia and the Pacific 2005). Even as south Asia added more workers to its labour force at a higher annual average growth of 2.3 per cent, as compared to 0.9 per cent in east Asia, informal (self) employment as a proportion of the labour force swelled from 40 to 50 per cent between 1980 and 2000, while that in east Asia charted a decline (from 23 to 18 per cent). Whether the decline in the latter, however, is due to a shift towards the organised sector or to informal wage employment is unclear. South Asia as a sub-region has also been least successful in reducing poverty

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