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How high is North Korea's real employment and income?

  • How high is North Korea's real employment and income?
  • Korea Development Institute
  • [Sejong] : Korea Development Institute
Resources Content Information Item Table
Title How high is North Korea's real employment and income?
Author Korea Development Institute
Publisher [Sejong] : Korea Development Institute
Publication Date 2016 - 12
Material Type Video
Country North Korea Holding Korea Development Institute
Language English License


According to the 2008 North Korea’s Census jointly conducted by the UN and North Korea, 88% of the population aged between 20 and 59 are employed in the official sector. In order to find out if this adequately reflects the reality in North Korea, this study examines the statistics on the employed population presented in the 2008 census, to uncover the real employment and income rates and to draw upon the implications. In terms of the real employment rate, a closer look into the official figures shows that there is a portion of the population who participate in household economic activities such as food production for personal consumption. Yet, in a socialist society such as North Korea, it is not necessary to participate in such activities as food is rationed through the workplace. This suggests that those participating in household economic activities are, in fact, unemployed. Indeed, a calculation of the real employment rate, which includes the unemployment figures, marks actual employment at a minimum of 31% and maximum of 62%. This, however, does not include Pyongyang, where the rate is closer to the official numbers at 61 to 85%.

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