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Dramatic changes reshape the world's post-war labour market.

Completely overshadowed by a burgeoning services sector, agriculture's importance in the employment structure of both developed and developing countries has waned considerably in the post-war world while, since 1945, the share of the industrial sector has grown in 60 per cent and declined in 40 per cent of the countries surveyed in the ILO Year Book of Labour Statistics: Retrospective Edition on Population Censuses: 1945-89. The data also suggest that the influx of women workers into the labour force since 1945 considerably influenced these trends. The pace of their movements among the three sectors differ from those of male workers.

Over the years, the agricultural sector's star has dimmed most perceptibly in industrialised countries where its share of total employment had dwindled, sometimes to a substantial degree as in Italy where it declined from 42 to 11 per cent of all employment, and in Bulgaria from 50 to 16 per cent. In most industrialised countries, employment in agriculture dropped to less than 10 per cent, including Austria, 33 to 9 per cent; Canada, 19 to 5 per cent; France, 28 to 8 per cent; the Federal Republic of Germany, 13 to 8 per cent; Japan, 54 to 9 per cent; Sweden, 17 to 5 per cent, and the United States where it went down from 12 to only 3 per cent. However, because agriculture in 1945 accounted for over half of all employment in some industrialised countries, subsequent declines still left a substantial sector in, for example, Greece where it declined from 51 to 29 per cent, Romania from 57 to 37 per cent, and Poland, 58 to 30 per cent.

Declines are also apparent in employment in the agricultural sector of most of the developing countries: 97 per cent of those in Latin America and the Caribbean, 85 per cent in North Africa and Southwest Asia, 96 per cent elsewhere in Asia and Oceania and 80 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. The declines had a lesser impact, however, in 14 countries of sub-Saharan Africa where three-fourths of the economically active population is still engage in agricultural activities, with the proportion rising to over 90 per cent in Burundi, Rwanda, Niger and Tanzania. Moreover, the sector continues as a significant source of economic activity in Nepal, where the decline was from 95 to 93 per cent; Thailand, 86 to 74 per cent; Honduras, 85 to 62 per cent; Guatemala, 66 to 56 per cent; Turkey, 77 to 59 per cent; and Egypt, 58 to 49 per cent.

During the 44-year period from 1945-89, the industrial sector provided a mixed picture of activity - stagnation, expansion and decline. There was no change, or very little, in sector share in 30 countries. Among industrialised countries, substantial declines in sector shares occurred in Belgium, 50 to 34 per cent; in Canada, 36 to 26 per cent; in Denmark, 34 to 27 per cent; in Sweden, 47 to 29 per cent; and in the United Kingdom, 48 to 37 per cent. In others major increase were reported including Bulgaria, 38 to 47 per cent; Czechoslovakia, 37 to 40 per cent, Greece, 21 to 31 per cent; Hungary, 35 to 44 per cent; Italy, 32 to 40 per cent; Japan, 23 to 33 per cent, Poland, 23 to 38 per cent; Portugal, 25 to 38 per cent; Romania, 25 to 40 per cent; and Spain, 25 to 39 per cent.

Female shares of industrial sector activity substantially increased in Bulgaria from 31 to 42 per cent; in Canada from 15 to 24 per cent; in Japan 21 to 31 per cent; in Poland 27 to 34 per cent; in Romania 21 to 30 per cent; and in the United States 19 to 26 per cent. Among developing countries, significant increase in the industrial sector's share of total employment took place in Botswana, 3 to 13 per cent; Cuba, 21 to 29 per cent; Dominican Republic, 12 to 24 per cent; Honduras, 8 to 15 per cent; Mexico, 19 to 29 per cent; Morocco, 13 to 27 per cent; and Singapore, 21 to 38 per cent. Major declines took place in Reunion, 22 to 16 per cent; in Seychelles, 31 to 25 per cent; and in Zambia, 31 to 14 per cent. Women lost ground in the industrial sector of some developing countries while they gained in others. Their share of sector activity decline substantially in the Philippines from 43 to 30 per cent; in Jamaica from 35 to 17 per cent; in Ecuador from 41 to 17 per cent; in the Maldives from 69 to 43 per cent; and in Nepal from 25 to 14 per cent. The countries where their shares increased included Tunisia from 15 to 29 per cent; Cuba from 12 to 23 per cent; Mexico from 13 to 24 per cent; Singapore from 15 to 39 per cent; Ghana from 27 to 57 per cent; and Mauritius from 9 to 30 per cent. While the agricultural sector declined and fluctuation characterized activity in the industrial sector during the 1945-89 period, the services sector took off and emerged as the "success story" in post-war job creation.

Among industrialised countries, the sector's share in employment increased most dramatically in Finland, from 33 to 58 per cent, in Belgium, from 37 to 62 per cent; and in Japan, from 22 to 57 per cent. Its share grew from one-half to two-thirds of employment in Australia, 46 to 68 per cent; in Canada, 45 to 69 per cent; in Denmark, 41 to 67 per cent; in the Netherlands, 48 to 64 per cent; in the United Kingdom, 49 to 60 per cent; and in the United States, from 52 to 66 per cent. The services sector in most developing countries also expanded with increase occurring in all those in Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa and Southwest Asia. The sector share increased from one-third to one-half of all activity in Jamaica, Cuba, Panama, Iraq and Libya. In Jordan, it increased from one-third to two-thirds. Ninety-one per cent of all other Asian and Oceanic countries as well as seven sub-Saharan African countries experienced increases in the service sector. They were particularly notable in the Philippines, 21 to 30 per cent; Bangladesh, 9 to 26 per cent; Indonesia, 19 to 30 per cent; Botswana, 6 to 32 per cent; Reunion, 35 to 69 per cent; and Mauritius, 32 to 46 per cent.

The female share of the services sector grew, with major increases in Canada, from 36 to 52 per cent' in New Zealand, from 35 to 51 per cent; and in Bulgaria, from 37 to 55 per cent, in Kuwait, from 7 to 28 per cent; Cuba, 26 to 44 per cent; Singapore, 17 to 32 per cent; Mozambique, 4 to 15 per cent; Zambia, 12 to 25 per cent; and Bahrain, 4 to 16 per cent.
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Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1990
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