9 Demography of the Labor Force

  • Teresa A. SullivanEmail author
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


The labor force consists of the economically active portion of the adult population, and it is divided between the employed and the unemployed. Key measures of labor force include the labor force participation rate, the unemployment rate, and the employment-population ratio. Substantive changes in the size, composition, and distribution of the labor force are important in the development of a population’s economy. In particular since the demographic transition there have been significant increases in the number of adult women in the labor force, as well as changes in the timing of their entries and exits from the labor force. Withdrawal from the labor force for purposes of school, family responsibility, illness or disability, retirement and death are important to study and can be modeled to some extent with tables of economically active life. Self-employment and discouraged workers introduce additional difficulties in measurement.


Work Unemployment Employment Labor force Table of economically active life Discouraged worker Women’s employment Labor force participation rate Unemployment rate Employment-population ratio 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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