The Moorish Wanderer

Labour Market Engineering

Very short post about the peculiarities of Moroccan labour market: the active population has never been so low: the latest figures from HCP show a declining trend with fewer than 50% of the total population made up of the active population. Since fertility rates have been going down for quite a while, it means many potentially active individuals prefer (or are made) to stay out of the labour market: students with longer academic curricula, stay-at-home housewives, retirees and ultimately the unemployed.

I was looking at the data and comparing it to my own models because there is a frightening story to tell here. Demographics in Morocco tend to be similar in many aspects to the ageing societies of Western Europe, with a falling youthful population (individuals aged 17 and less have reached their absolute peak in 1994) whereas the elderly are increasing their numbers substantially – 24% of the population by 2050 according to HCP projections. In essence, the present demographics allow at best for a total workforce of 4.5 Million individuals, less than 14.4% of the total population.

Elederly population is expected to make up 1/5 of the population by the mid-century, with no active population to match.

Elderly population is expected to make up 1/5 of the population by the mid-century, with no active population to match.

And there is an even smaller fraction of these: women make up for almost half of the 15-59 population, yet their occupation rate does not rise above 30%. I mean, the 70% are supposed to be dutiful housewives, yet they do not procreate enough. The traditional family model has collapsed a long time ago. Thanks to structural changes in gender-based division of labour as well as harsh economic realities, there are coexisting benchmarks for women to choose from. Yet even if the mainstream outcome remains that of stay-at-home mum, fertility has not follow suit. Perhaps it is time to switch gears and go for massive arrivals on the labour market, let these women leave their homes to earn a living too.
In absolute and relative terms, Moroccan families will procreate less and less: in 2039, there will be less than a Million newborns, and the young Moroccans (14 and less) by 2050 will make up less than 17% of the total population. I would argue the only viable pro-traditional (or even nuclear) family discourse is a higher fertility rate. Clearly it is not the case, so in order to improve our immediate and medium term economic position, there is a need of flooding the labour market with all these women, some educated, others not so much, but at least total productivity would increase.

Some predictions about this: as a general rule, structural shocks (changes in the economy that are not due to physical capital stock) tend to have a positive impact on wages, especially skilled labour wages, and only a marginal effect on total hours worked; the latter is due to the very inflexible Moroccan labour market: every 1% ‘positive shock’ increases wages immediately by an annual 6.1%, and generates a net annual social benefit of 2.3%. These massive arrivals on the labour market are likely to increase unemployment dramatically, but there is a need of increasing rapidly female occupation rates, or growth will be structurally sluggish in the next decades.

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