International Policies and their Effect on Employment

  • H. W. Singer


It is notoriously difficult to measure unemployment in less developed countries (l.d.c.s hereafter) in terms which make it comparable with unemployment in the richer countries. Its forms and apparitions are too different, and I agree with Gunnar Myrdal, Michael Lipton, Paul Streeten and others that we must be wary of transferring uncritically Western concepts to the different Third World. However, we must be equally careful not to jump from the legitimate refusal to apply First World concepts — or Second World concepts for that matter — to Third World problems, to the illegitimate assumption that unemployment and underemployment in open and disguised forms do not exist, or are not serious, merely because they cannot be measured by familiar concepts and caught by familiar definitions, or because the data are lacking. Without labouring the point, for my present purposes I shall simply assert: (a) that unemployment is extremely serious in the l.d.c.s; (b) that it is much more serious at present in the l.d.c.s than in the richer countries; (c) that on reasonable definitions unemployment is of the order of magnitude of 25–30% in many l.d.c.s, and 20–25% in the overall picture; (d) that it is serious, more or less equally so, both in its rural and urban manifestations; (e) that unemployment has become increasingly serious in the last 10–20 years; (f) that on present indications it is bound to increase further, unless counter-influences appear (which must probably include a vigorous and balanced development of science and technology in directions more relevant to the l.d.c.s and their factor endowments, and in the longer run a slowing down of population growth).


Foreign Firm Rich Country International Policy Employment Impact World Concept 
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    World Plan of Action for the Application of Science and Technology to Development United Nations Document E/AC.52/L.68 of 19 October 1969.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hans W. Singer 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. W. Singer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Economic Development StudiesUniversity of SussexUK

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