Employment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators

OPHI Working Papers

Employment is the main source of income for most families in the world. While it is certainly not a new dimension of well-being, it is sometimes forgotten in human development studies and poverty reduction policies or, at least, not considered in the depth it deserves. This paper proposed seven indicators of employment to be added to multi-purpose households surveys which, we argue, are crucial to a comprehensive understanding of causes and implications of poverty around the world. Traditional approaches to labour market indicators present two main weaknesses. First, in most cases, they are not as relevant in the developing world as they are in developed economies, and hence do not provide an accurate picture of labour markets in these countries. Second, surveys that collect a broader set of questions on employment do not always include extensive questions on the household and its members. The indicators proposed are informal employment; income from employment (including self-employment earnings); occupational hazard; under/over employment; multiple activities; and discouraged unemployment. The aim is to complement ‘traditional’ indicators to provide a deeper understanding of both the quantity and quality of employment.

Citation: Lugo, M. A. (2007). ‘Employment:  A proposal for internationally comparable indicators’, OPHI Working Paper 02, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Working Paper 02 in Mandarin

Working Paper 02 in Spanish: 'Las dimensiones faltantes en la medición de la pobreza', (p. 81–95), CAF - Banco de Desarrollo de America Latina

Also published as 'Employment: A proposal for internationally comparable indicators' in Oxford Development Studies, 2007, Vol. 35(4), pp. 361–378.


work, quality of employment, poverty, household survey


Maria Ana Lugo

Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
J21, J81, C8
Publication Number
WP 02