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  • Writer's pictureMarie S.

Analytical Macroeconomics Insight: Rural-Urban Unemployment Divide in Liberia



The rural-urban unemployment divide in Liberia is a critical issue that warrants examination in order to develop targeted policy interventions. This disparity in unemployment rates has significant implications for overall economic growth and poverty alleviation. According to the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (2020), the national unemployment rate in Liberia was 6.0% in 2020. However, this figure does not capture the full picture, as the unemployment rate in rural areas was considerably higher at 9.5% compared to 3.8% in urban areas (LISGIS, 2020).


The causes of this divide are multifaceted and rooted in historical, social, and economic factors. Firstly, the legacy of the Liberian Civil War (1989-2003) has left rural infrastructure in disrepair, which has hindered economic opportunities and access to education and health services in these areas (World Bank, 2021). Secondly, the rural economy in Liberia is predominantly based on subsistence agriculture, which suffers from low productivity due to outdated farming practices and lack of investment (FAO, 2019). This limited diversification of the rural economy contributes to the high unemployment rate.


In contrast, urban centers in Liberia, such as Monrovia, have experienced significant economic growth and development over the past decade, driven by sectors like manufacturing, mining, and services (IMF, 2021). This has resulted in increased job opportunities and a lower unemployment rate in urban areas. Additionally, better access to education and training in urban centers has equipped residents with the skills needed to secure employment in the growing sectors (UNDP, 2020).


Addressing the rural-urban unemployment divide requires a multifaceted approach. Investments in rural infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and telecommunications, can create employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth (World Bank, 2021). Encouraging diversification of the rural economy through targeted support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promotion of value-added agriculture can also help to generate jobs and reduce unemployment (African Development Bank, 2020). Furthermore, improving access to quality education and vocational training in rural areas can equip individuals with the necessary skills to compete in the labor market (UNESCO, 2021).



To conclude, the rural-urban unemployment divide in Liberia is a pressing issue that requires targeted policy interventions to bridge the gap. By investing in rural infrastructure, promoting economic diversification, and enhancing education and training opportunities, policymakers can help to reduce overall unemployment and foster inclusive economic growth in Liberia.


In 2017, the unemployment rate in rural areas was 24.4%, while the unemployment rate in urban areas was 12.5% (World Bank, 2018). This divide is due to a number of factors, including:

  • Differences in economic opportunities: There are more economic opportunities in urban areas than in rural areas. This is due to the fact that urban areas are home to more businesses, industries, and government agencies.

  • Differences in education levels: People in urban areas are more likely to have higher levels of education than people in rural areas. This is because there are more schools and universities in urban areas.

  • Differences in access to infrastructure: People in urban areas have better access to infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and water, than people in rural areas. This makes it easier for people in urban areas to find jobs and start businesses.

The rural-urban divide in Liberia has a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Poverty: Poverty is more common in rural areas than in urban areas. In 2017, the poverty rate in rural areas was 61.5%, while the poverty rate in urban areas was 33.8% (World Bank, 2018).

  • Insecurity: Insecurity is more common in rural areas than in urban areas. In 2017, the homicide rate in rural areas was 10.7 per 100,000 people, while the homicide rate in urban areas was 4.4 per 100,000 people (World Bank, 2018).

  • Environmental degradation: Rural areas in Liberia are more vulnerable to environmental degradation than urban areas. This is because rural areas are more dependent on natural resources, such as forests and water, for their livelihoods.

  • Hunger: Hunger is also more common in rural areas than in urban areas. This is because people in rural areas are more likely to be farmers and are more vulnerable to crop failures and other natural disasters.

There are a number of strategies that can be used to address the rural-urban divide in Liberia, including:

  • Investing in rural areas: The government can invest in rural areas by building roads, schools, and hospitals. This will make it easier for people in rural areas to find jobs, start businesses, and improve their standard of living.

  • Providing education and training: The government can provide education and training to people in rural areas. This will help them to develop the skills they need to find jobs and start businesses.

  • Promoting rural development: The government can promote rural development by supporting small businesses and farmers. This will help to create jobs and improve the standard of living in rural areas.

The rural-urban divide is a serious problem in Liberia. However, by investing in rural areas, providing education and training, and promoting rural development, the government can help to reduce the divide and improve the lives of people in rural areas.


Sources:


World Bank. (2018). Liberia Economic Update: Investing for Jobs and Inclusive Growth. Washington, DC: World Bank.


African Development Bank. (2020). African Economic Outlook 2020. Retrieved from https://www.afdb.org/en/documents/african-economic-outlook-2020


FAO. (2019). Country Profile: Liberia. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/en/?iso3=LBR


IMF. (2021). Liberia: 2021 Article IV Consultation. Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2021/05/25/Liberia-2021-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-by-the-50274


Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS). (2020). Labour Force Survey 2020. Retrieved from http://www.lisgis.net/pg_img/National%20Labour%20Force%20Survey%20_2020_Report.pdf


UNDP. (2020). Liberia National Human Development Report 2020. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2020_liberia_national

 

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