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Labor Shortages Despite Underemployment? Seasonality in Time Use in Malawi

By Quentin Wodon and Kathleen Beegle


Evidence for Malawi and other developing countries suggests the existence of labor shortages at the peak of the cropping season, with negative impacts on the ability of households to make the most of their endowments such as land. At the same time, for most of the year, there is substantial underemployment, especially in rural areas. It could therefore be argued that seasonality in the demand for labor is leading to both underemployment and labor shortages. This paper provides basic descriptive data from a 2004 nationally representative household survey to assess the typical workload of the population. The data confirm the presence of strong seasonality effects in the supply of labor, as well as substantial differences in workload between men and women due to the burden of domestic work, including the time spent for collecting water and wood.

Topics: J22 - Time Allocation and Labor Supply, I32 - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty, J16 - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
Year: 2006
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