When using the indicator on status in employment to assess vulnerable employment, one has to bear in mind that there are often differences in definitions, as well as in coverage, across countries and for different years, resulting from variations in information sources and methodologies that make comparisons difficult.
Some definitional changes or differences in coverage can be overlooked. For example, it is not likely to be significant that status-in-employment comparisons are made between countries using information from labour force surveys with differing age coverage. (The generally used age coverage is 15 years and over, but some countries use a different lower limit or impose an upper age limit.) In addition, in a limited number of cases one category of self-employed – the members of producers’ cooperatives – are included with wage and salaried workers (Czech Republic and Poland). The effects of this non-standard grouping are likely to be small.
What is more important to note is that information from labour force surveys is not necessarily consistent in terms of what is included in employment. For example, the information supplied by the OECD relates to civilian employment, which can result in an underestimation of “employees” and “workers not classifiable by status”, especially in countries that have large armed forces. The other two categories, self-employed and contributing family workers, would not be affected, although their relative shares would be.
With respect to geographic coverage, information from a source that covers only urban areas or only particular cities cannot be compared fairly with information from sources that cover both rural and urban areas, that is, the entire country. It is, therefore, not meaningful to compare results from many of the Latin American countries with results from the rest of the world because employment-by status information for most Latin American countries relates to urban areas only. Similarly, for some sub-Saharan African countries – where very limited information is available anyway – the self-employed group often does not include members of producers’ cooperatives, while for other countries it may.
For “wage and salaried workers” one needs to be careful about the coverage, noting whether, as mentioned above, it refers only to the civilian population or to the total population. Moreover, the status-in-employment distinctions used in this chapter do not allow for finer distinctions in working status – in other words, whether workers have casual or regular contracts and the kind of protection the contracts provide against dismissals, as all wage and salaried workers are grouped together.
In compiling the KILM, the ILO concentrates on bringing together information from international repositories. In other words, the KILM team rarely collects information directly from national sources, but rather takes advantage of existing compilations held by various organizations, such as the following:
International Labour Office (Bureau of Statistics)
United Nations Statistics Division
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Most of the information for the indicator Status in Employment is gathered from three international repositories of labour market data: (a) the ILO Bureau of Statistics, Yearbook of Labour Statistics (LABORSTA) database, (b) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and the ILO Labour Market Indicators Library (LMIL). Additional documentation regarding national practices in the collection of statistics is provided in ILO: Sources and Methods: Labour Statistics, Vol. 3: Economically Active Population, Employment, Unemployment and Hours of Work (Household Surveys); Vol. 5: Total and Economically Active Population, Employment and Unemployment (Population Censuses). The Sources and Methods are available online at the country level on website:
Information maintained by these organizations has generally been obtained from national sources or is based on official national publications.
Whenever information was available from more than one repository, the information and background documentation from each repository was reviewed in order to select the information most suitable for inclusion, based on an assessment of the general reliability of the sources, the availability of methodological information and explanatory notes regarding the scope of coverage, the availability of information by sex and age, and the degree of historical coverage. Occasionally, two data repositories have been chosen and presented for a single country; any resulting breaks in the historical series are duly noted.
For countries with less-developed labour market information systems, such as those in the developing economies, information may not be easily available to policy-makers and the social partners, and even less so to international organizations seeking to compile global data sets. Many of these countries, however, do collect labour market information through household and establishment surveys, population censuses and administrative records, so that the main problem remains the communication of such information to the global community. In this situation, the ILO Labour Market Indicators Library (LMIL) programme is used. The LMIL is a system for sharing information between the ILO regional offices and headquarters. ILO regional offices are closer to the original micro-sources of data and have therefore been successful in filling in numerous gaps where data at headquarters – used in the production of the KILM – had not existed. It is an ongoing programme that continues to assist the KILM and other ILO publications and research programmes in the expansion of its country and yearly coverage of indicators.