Economic transformation involves a shift in resources from low productivity to high productivity activities. This includes employment and productivity shifts across and within sectors.


Country-level and indicator-level data:

  • GDP, employment and relative productivity levels
  • Labour productivity levels and changes
  • Relative productivity and changes in employment shares by sector
  • Decomposition of labour productivity change
  • Productivity gaps
  • Total employment by sex and sector
  • Sectoral employment by sex
  • Percentage of workers (age 25+) in agriculture


Economic structures data is collected from the following data sources:


There are a number of pros and cons in using economic structures data for analysing economic transformation. These include:

  • The quality of national account data are notoriously poor
  • Updating data, using a different base year or methodology frequently lead to relatively large revisions of (sectoral) GDP data, especially if these take place after more than the usual five years
  • There are very few internationally consistent databases with sufficient sectoral GDP data
  • The definition of employment vary across databases and countries, particularly in definitions of formal, informal, age groups, etc. This means it is very challenging to interpret labour productivity data which use both GDP and employment data


Area of transformationData sourcesProsConsUses
Economic structuresGroningen productivity database (10-Sector Database): 10-sectors for 33 countries in Africa (11), North Africa (2), Asia (11) and Latin America (9), plus USA and 8 EU countries10 sectors; employment includes informal sectorFew DFID focus countries included (8 in Africa, 1 in Asia)Sectoral shares in value added and employment; labour productivity by sector
World Development IndicatorsMany countries includedFew sector details, needs to be updated after rebasing, no employment level estimatesSectoral shares in value added and employment; labour productivity by sector
UNSD National Accounts Main Aggregates DatabaseGDP by type of expenditure and GVA by kind of activity (7 sectors). Very wide country/region coverage over long time period (since 1970)Extent of estimated data not apparentSectoral shares in value added (and, in conjunction with ILO WESO data, labour productivity by sector)
ILO Global Employment DataWide country coverage since 1991. Includes formal and informal levels of employment (total and by sex and broad sector)Sectoral breakdowns cover agriculture, industry and services onlyEmployment by sex and broad sector (and, in conjunction with WDI data, labour productivity by broad sector)
ILO World Employment and Social Outlook supporting datasetsWide country coverage since 1991. Detailed sectoral (14 sectors) and occupational employment shares, total and by sexExtent of estimated data not apparentEmployment by sex and sector (and, in conjunction with UNSD data, labour productivity by sector)
UNIDO Manufacturing databaseLevel of detail for manufacturing sub-sectors, does not include informal sectorManufacturing only; includes formal sectorSectoral shares in value added and employment; labour productivity by sector
Demographic and Health surveysMicro basisEmployment / occupation by sector, gender, age
Household surveys – LSMSThe DHS data include spatial information, and hence it is possible, in principle, to examine transformation by geographic location within a countryThere are no wages so it is difficult to discuss issues related to productivity