Working Population

October 13, 2010Employmentby EconomyWatch


Working population refers to the number of people who are willing and eligible to work. Those who are above 15 years of age and willing to work are considered in this bracket. Retirement age differs from one country to another so respective working populations are affected accordingly.

What Is Working Population?

Working population is not a highly technical term as it is used by laypersons and academicians. Interestingly, it is defined differently in different circumstances. For instance, the International Labor Organization defines it as an estimate of a country’s labor force that is available for production. In contrast, census includes even job seekers, trainees and housewives who are willing to work, as part of the working population. This type of working population is largely found in industrialized and urban non-industrialized economies.

In a non-academic context, a working population consists of those who are engage in physical labor and earn hourly wages for their work. However, different countries interpret it differently. For instance, highly educated professors who work in UK are referred to as ‘working class.’

Why is Working Population Relevant?

Being part of the working population is no longer synonymous with class wars or social stigma. Decades ago, Karl Marx stated that a society’s wealth is created by its working population because they do all the hard work without owning any means of production. It is a far cry from today’s capitalist society, where the working population has considerable access to the means of production and may even control the work environment.

In developing countries, the working population plays a critical role as they augment deficiency or urgent requirement for labor in other countries.

How is Working Population Calculated?

Working population is calculated differently in different countries. For instance, the Queensland government census counts everyone who is employed as part of the working population. Information is collected based on the location of their workplace. On the other hand, census in the Indian Himalayan region classifies working population into three main groups: main, marginal and non-workers.

While population explosion stalls a country’s growth, a productive working population serves a country’s economic interest. For instance, economists agree that one of the reasons for China’s booming economy is because 70% of its population is of working age. A country’s economy benefits when its working population is vast and productive



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