Food, Agriculture & Decent Work
ILO & FAO working together

Rural Labour Statistics

Labour statistics for development of the agricultural sector and for rural development as a whole are essential for policy planning, implementation, monitoring and analysis. The FAO Statistics Division in collaboration with the ILO Department of STATISTICS prepares a number of time-series to provide more comprehensive statistics for rural policy and analysis. The collaboration includes both methodological work as well as preparation of statistical datasets. The development of a structured agricultural labour statistics framework was a joint undertaking that is populated with statistics from the ILO Database of Labour Statistics LABORSTA and other international and national sources.

World-wide estimates and projections of the agricultural population and labour force

Country estimates and projections of the Agricultural Population and Labour Force are regularly prepared using the population database of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and the estimates and projections of labour force participation of the ILO Department of Statistics. This activity falls under the combined inter-agency partnership programme in the field of global demographic estimates and projections. The methodology and sources of Labour statistics in agriculture are available in the report World-wide Estimates and Projections of the Agricultural Population and Labour Force (2000).

The following statistics in the population domain of the FAO database FAOSTAT are available at country level:

  • Agricultural and Non Agricultural population
  • Economically Active Population by sex
  • Economically Active Population in Agriculture by sex

World Census of Agriculture

FAO and ILO work closely in the preparation of materials relating to agricultural labour for the World Census of Agriculture. The Department of Statistics of ILO collaborated with FAO Statistics Division in the preparation of Guidelines on employment - Supplement to the Programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2000 and in the review of the chapter on employment for the guidelines for the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture (WCA 2010).

Household Expenditure Surveys

FAO is supporting the national statistical systems to improve the analysis of the available national household surveys to derive a suite of food security indicators including the Millennium Development Goal indicator 1.9 at national and sub-national levels. Technical assistance with the appropriate tools and software on deriving food security statistics estimates from HIES are provided at country level through the National Demonstration Centres (NDC) and at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, in the International Demonstration Centre (ICD). It also supports the information process of the national multi-sectoral task force on food security for more focus on food policies and programmes. 

FAO is working on a data repository of national household income and expenditure surveys collecting food consumption and labour force details, which will be useful for more in-depth analysis of food security using also sex-disaggregated labour statistics. 


FAO worked in close collaboration with ILO in the review of the agricultural occupations related to the ILO October Inquiry and the development and implementation of the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08). FAO was actively involved in the work of the 17th International Conference of Labour Statisticians relating to the review of resolutions and guidelines in Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES) and price statistics.

Special ILO Rural Data – New products

The ILO Department of Statistics carried out in 2010 a special compilation of rural data available and disseminated in international repositories or databases by other international partner agencies, including FAO, OECD, World Bank, etc. By using the Internet, the 80 or so countries for which statistics were compiled did not undergo any additional burden from this special exercise. The spectrum of classification criteria used by countries to define rurality was mapped from the new database. Further analysis of the available statistics in the form of charts and graphics were prepared.

The ILO Rural Labour Statistics Dataset comprises labour statistics in rural areas for 80 ILO member States from international repositories, mainly the rural/urban disaggregates of employment, unemployment and economically active population by sex and age groups – various years. It serves as background to understanding current national data collection practices that encompass a rural dimension and to take stock of data availability.

The ILO Rural Syntopicon of Rural Labour Statistics (or technical inventory by country) maps the criteria defining the rural in labour statistics and their characteristics, gathered in the ILO Rural Labour Statistics Dataset:

  • For specific topics (primarily) Employment, Unemployment, and Economically active population (the sum of employment and unemployment),
  • The years and relevant statistical source,
  • The international reference repository,
  • The definitional criteria (variables) used to define urban/rural areas.

The ILO Rural Analytical Results is presented in the form of charts, graphics and maps of the main rural indicators, by country and continent, based on national rural classifications.


FAO Focal Point: Gladys Moreno  Garcia, ESSG (

ILO Focal Point: Sophia Lawrence, STATISTICS (