Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lao workforce not in private companies

So the 2011 census is there and, it is quite interesting: In a country that is, following World Bank and other reports, booming and growing fast,  "only 174,000 people or 4.33 percent of the total population within the working age group of 15 to 64, work for private companies" according to a Report by the local newspaper Vientiane Times.

So that means all this new businesses aren't creating jobs?

But it comes even better: 1.4 million people, or 35 percent of the working population, are self employed. That means they sell noodle soup, run a 4x4m grocery shop, work as handy man. Not much income from that, and of course they don't have any social insurance at all.

But it's not the end: 1.1 million people or 28.57 percent of the working age population work for their own families without payment, 218,342 or 5.42 percent are home makers, and 558,905 people or 13.87 percent are students.

Ok, let's do the math: 28.57 percent at home, plus 35 self-employed in mainly very low paid jobs, 13.87 percent students without a job, 6.8 work for state agencies. More than 70 percent of the work force. And don't even think calling Laos a paradise for entrepreneurs - the self-employed are mainly quite poor people with very low profit (if any) in what they sell. 

I wonder how a country can develop with nobody working in the private sector?


  1. hey i really enjoy reading your blog. Any thoughts on {http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/asia/china-builds-a-railroad-and-laos-bears-the-cost.html?partner=bloomberg&_r=0} by the way?

  2. Thanks. Yep, I read it, and can't agree more. I read the World Bank report as well today, and between the lines you see that the WB is extremely concerned about the debts for the damn. But it seems to be a topic not discussed anymore much in public. Guess why?

  3. The way I read it is 4% (corporate workers) + 35% (SMEs) + 29% (work at family business) = 68% of the work force is employed in the private sector, and less than 7% in the public sector. I think this is actually a better ratio than many western countries.