David Leonhardt says

Perhaps the most surprising part of the new Gallup study of unemployment around the world is that poorer countries don’t tend to have higher jobless rates. After surveying workers in 129 countries, Gallup concludes that “there is no significant relationship between unemployment rates and GDP per capita.”

I am not sure if he is just playing to his audience but I wouldn’t find that surprising in the slightest. This I find interesting

Here’s the Gallup’s chart comparing per-capita gross domestic product and underemployment, a category that includes part-time workers who want to be working full time:


I would have likewise expected no relationship.

Countries aren’t poor because the people don’t have work, they are poor because the work they do is less “productive.”

I put productive in quotes because I think even many readers of this blog instinctively equate productivity with the work ethic or can-do-it-ness of the worker. Productivity is mostly driven by machines and technology, however.

Having a lot of can-do spirit and a shovel is no match for being ho-hum and having a bulldozer.

Though when you combine the chart above with this chart it makes more sense


Not having access to machines and technology might manifest itself as not  working for a well established company. Folks in poor countries are likely piecing together a living from various different forms of work. In addition, because they are poor  they would like to work even more work, even if they are spending 40 hours a week engaged in some type of market activity.