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Czechoslovakia: Labor Force
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Labor Force

LABOR FORCE


In 1985 Czechoslovakia's total labor force amounted to about 7.6 million persons. Of these, 46.1 percent were women, giving Czechoslovakia one of the highest female labor rates in the world. Almost 88 percent of the population of working age (between 15 and 59 years of age for men and between 15 and 54 for women) was employed in 1985. About 37.4 percent of the work force was in industry, 13.7 percent in agriculture and forestry, 24.3 percent in other productive sectors, and 24.6 percent in the socalled nonproductive (mainly services) sectors.

During the first two decades following World War II, redistribution of the work force, especially movement from agriculture to industry, had provided an influx of workers for the government's program emphasizing heavy industry. Women also had entered the work force in record numbers. But falling birthrates in the 1960s, noticeable first in the Czech lands but subsequently occurring in Slovakia as well, gave reason for concern. During the 1970s, the government introduced various measures to encourage workers to continue working after reaching retirement age, with modest success. In addition, the large number of women already participating in the work force precluded significant increases from this source.

By the mid-1980s, the labor supply was a serious problem for Czechoslovakia. During the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1981-85), the work force increased by less than 3 percent. Because Czechoslovakia's service sectors were less developed than those of the industrialized countries of Western Europe, during the 1980s employment in services continued to expand faster than employment in the productive sectors. The expansion placed additional constraints on industrial enterprises seeking to fill positions. Some Western observers suggested that the labor shortage resulted in part from the tendency of many industrial enterprises to overstaff their operations.

Party and government officials set wage scales and work norms. As part of reform measures effective after 1980, incentive rewards represented a larger share of total pay than had previously been the case. Work norms also increased. Officials were clearly soliciting a greater effort from workers, in terms of both quantity and quality.

In the mid-1980s, most of the labor force was organized and was represented, at least in theory, by unions. The party controlled the unions, and a major task of the unions was to motivate workers to work harder and fulfill the plan goals. The unions served as vehicles for disseminating desired views among the workers. The principal activity of the trade unions was the administration of health insurance, social welfare, and worker's recreation programs.

Data as of August 1987




Last Updated: August 1987


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Czechoslovakia was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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