unctad.org | The Least Developed Countries Report 2013
The Least Developed Countries Report 2013
Book Information
  • UN Symbol: UNCTAD/LDC/2013
  • ISBN: 978-92-1-112864-2
  • eISBN: 978-92-1-054116-9
  • ISSN: 0257-7550
  • Sales No: E.13.II.D.1
  • Order from UN Publications
Growth with employment for inclusive and sustainable development


The least developed countries (LDCs) face a stark demographic challenge, as their population is projected to double to 1.7 billion by 2050. The LDC youth population (aged 15 to 24 years) is expected to soar from 168 million in 2010 to 300 million by 2050, when one in four youths worldwide will live in an LDC.

The LDC working-age population will increase by 16 million people each year. Given the clear demographic challenges, the LDCs will need to make significant efforts to generate a sufficient quantity of jobs and offer decent employment opportunities to their young population. If this is not achieved, the likelihood is that poverty, social instability and international emigration rates will rise.

Against this background, the Report considers how LDCs can promote growth that generates an adequate number of quality jobs and enables them to reach what UNCTAD believes are their most urgent and pivotal goals: poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Key messages:

  • Growth in the LDCs has not been inclusive and its contribution to poverty reduction has been limited. It has not generated enough “quality” jobs – that is, jobs offering higher wages and better working conditions – especially for the young.

  • Creating employment opportunities is critical because it is the best and most sustainable pathway out of poverty.

  • Economic growth which does not create decent jobs in sufficient quantity is unsustainable; job creation without the development of productive capacities is equally unsustainable.

  • In order to reach the goal of creating sufficient quality jobs, LDCs need to base employment generation on development of productive capacities through the investment-growth-employment nexus. The critical entry point for creating such nexus is investment.

  • Given the relatively weak private sector in many LDCs, it is more likely that in the short to medium term the investment push required to kick-start the growth process will originate in the public sector.

  • Investment in infrastructure is a natural starting point, since the lack of adequate infrastructure in most LDCs is a serious bottleneck to enterprise development and building of productive capacities.

  • The upgrading of firms and farms of all sizes is critical, in view of their role in contributing to growth, creating productive capacities and generating jobs for both unskilled and skilled workers.


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