Unpaid work prevalent in agricultural sector

Unpaid work is mainly found in subsistence agriculture in Romania. In 2005, 97.5% of unpaid family workers worked in agriculture, while the remaining 2.5% worked either in commerce (1.3%) or other sectors (1.2%). Distribution of workers by sex indicates a higher percentage of women among unpaid family workers, at 72.3%, while distribution by area reveals a higher density of such workers in rural areas, at 94%.

Definition of unpaid family worker

In addition to the traditional categories of employee, employer and self-employed person, the structure of employment according to occupational status includes unpaid family workers. The Household Labour Force Survey (Ancheta forţei de muncă în gospodării, AMIGO), conducted annually by the Institute of National Statistics (Institutul Naţional de Statistică, INS), provides the following definition for this category of workers:

The unpaid family worker works in a family economic unit managed by a member of the family or relative and receives no remuneration either in the form of a wage or in kind. The farm household (agricultural) is considered such a unit. If several people in a household work on the family farm, one of them – most often the head of the household – is considered to be self-employed, while the rest are unpaid family workers.

Extent of unpaid work

According to AMIGO, in 2005, unpaid family workers totalled 1.27 million people, compared with 1.75 million in 1996, which represents 13.8% and 16% respectively of total employment (Table 1).

Table 1: Self-employed and unpaid workers in relation to total employment
According to AMIGO, in 2005, unpaid family workers totalled 1.27 million people compared with 1.75 million in 1996, representing 13.8% and 16% respectively of total employment.
  1996 2005
Number % Number %
Total employment 10,935,500 100.0 9,146,600 100.0
Self-employed workers 2,161,100 19.8 1,795,100 19.6
Unpaid family workers 1,752,400 16.0 1,266,800 13.8

Source: AMIGO, INS, Bucharest, 1997 and 2006

The general trend indicates a decline of 27.7% in the number of unpaid family workers in 2005 compared with 1996, while total employment decreased by 16.4%.

In 2005, 97.5% of unpaid family workers worked in agriculture, with the remaining 2.5% working either in commerce (1.3%) or other sectors (1.2%).

The distribution of such workers by sex shows the prevalence of women among this group, amounting to 72.3% of unpaid workers in 1996 and 69.3% in 2005. In both years, over 94% of unpaid family workers were located in rural areas (Table 2).

Table 2: Distribution of unpaid family workers, by sex and residential area
According to AMIGO, in 1996 and 2005, the distribution of unpaid family workers by sex shows the prevalence of women, amounting to 72.3% and 69.3% respectively. In both years, over 94% of unpaid family workers were found in rural areas.
  1996 2005
Number % Number %
Total unpaid workers 1,752,400 100.0 1,266,800 100.0
Men 485,300 27.7 388,500 30.7
Women 1,267,100 72.3 878,300 69.3
Urban 102,400 5.8 69,100 5.5
Rural 1,650,000 94.2 1,197,700 94.5

Source: AMIGO, INS, Bucharest, 1997 and 2006

AMIGO data also indicate an overall and relative increase of unpaid family workers among those in the 25–34 year age group during the period 1996–2005. In other age groups, both the number and percentages of such workers are decreasing. Out of the total number of unpaid family workers, people aged over 65 years accounted for 14.3% in 1996 and 10.8% in 2005 (see Figure).

Distribution of unpaid family workers, by age group (%)

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Source: AMIGO, INS, Bucharest, 1997 and 2006

Distribution of unpaid family workers, by age group (%)

Finally, unpaid family workers cannot be included in the category of part-time workers or occasional workers as available data reveal minor differences in terms of the average length of the working week of these workers, compared with the other categories of employed workers (Table 3).

Table 3: Average length of working week (hours)
According to AMIGO, the length of the working week for unpaid family workers was shorter by comparison with that of the total working population by just 4.7 hours in 2005 and three hours in 1996.
  1996 2005
Employment Unpaid family workers Employment Unpaid family workers
Total 40.8 37.8 40.8 36.1
Men 41.6 40.0 41.5 38.2
Women 39.8 37.1 40.0 35.2

Source: AMIGO, INS, Bucharest, 1997 and 2006

For this category of workers, the length of the working week was shorter by comparison with that of the employed population by just 4.7 hours in 2005 and three hours in 1996.

Commentary

The incidence of unpaid work is most common in the area of subsistence agriculture in Romania. In 2005, agriculture accounted for approximately 32% of total employment. Of the more than 2.9 million people working in agriculture, 1.5 million represented self-employed workers and 1.24 million were unpaid family workers. In the context of the INS definition of the unpaid family worker, the boundary line between self-employed workers and unpaid family workers in terms of remuneration is not very evident in Romanian subsistence agriculture. In other words, according to the data, 93.7% of farmers were neither employees nor employers.

Luminiţa Chivu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy

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