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[Excerpt] In its determined pursuit of economic development throughout the latter part of the twentieth century, Taiwan consistently succeeded in achieving growth rates that were amongst the highest in the world; however, in tandem with such growth, a number of significant changes also took place in the island's labour market. This chapter begins by highlighting some of the most important of these aggregate changes, as follows: (i) the achievement, and subsequent maintenance of, essentially full employment; (ii) improvements in the overall mix of jobs, in particular, a steady reduction in the share of agricultural employment to total employment, a very important shift given that agriculture remains one of the lowest-paying sectors in the Taiwanese economy; (iii) a rise in the share of wage employees, and, in consequence, a fall in the share of own-account work and unpaid family work; this represents another important shift, since wage employees in Taiwan enjoy much higher standards of living than own-account workers and unpaid family workers; (iv) an increase in the share of professional positions and other high-level jobs; a further significant and valuable development, because these are quite clearly the best-paying jobs; (v) real improvements in the educational level of the labour force as a whole; and (vi) a rise in real earnings throughout every sector of the economy, with both male and female earnings having risen at the same pace, in both farm and non-farm households.

In addition to all of these changes, real earnings across the entire Taiwanese economy have doubled every ten years, absolute poverty has fallen sharply and the Gini coefficient of individual earnings has remained essentially constant, indicating that income inequality remains strong (further details on all of the above developments are provided in the Appendix, Tables A2.1-A2.7). This chapter sets out to present brief analyses of the changes that have taken place in Taiwan between 1976 and 1993.


Suggested Citation

Fields, G. S. (2007). Taiwan’s changing employment and earnings structure [Electronic version]. In J. S. Lee (Ed.), The labour market and economic development of Taiwan (pp. 36-58). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.

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