Economy of Southern Asia


According to COUNTRYAAH, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. In recent decades, the country has been torn apart by war and civil war. The trade union movement is weak and is found mainly in the cities.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 647 500 km2

Capital: Kabul

Language: Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkmen and more

Labor market and economy:

About half of the population lives on agriculture and animal husbandry. In total, agriculture accounts for 80 percent of the country’s GDP. With the help of irrigation, cereals, vegetables and cotton are grown. The most important thing in animal husbandry is sheep. The wool is used for the manufacture of carpets.

The workforce consists of a total of about 8.5 million people. Of these, two-fifths are underemployed or unemployed. 60 per cent of the labor force lack school education and only 10 per cent have an education that corresponds to compulsory school level.

The country’s workforce is young. Half are between 14 and 29 years old. This reflects that the entire population of the country is young, almost half are under 15 years of age. A large proportion of the country’s women do not have paid work, but are allowed to take responsibility for unpaid work in households and in agriculture.

Afghanistan is one of Asia’s poorest countries. One fifth of households live in extreme poverty and 38 percent have a lack of access to food.


The area around Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka is one of the most densely populated in the world. The country became independent in 1971, formerly a province of Pakistan. Bangladesh is a Bengali term meaning “Land of Bengal”. The trade union movement in the country is divided and party politicized.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 144,000 km2

Capital: Dhaka

Language: Bengali and more

Labor market and economy:

Bangladesh is a poor agricultural country, while many Asian low-wage industries have relocated their production to the country. Although the capital Dhaka is one of Asia’s largest cities, Bangladesh as a whole is not very urbanized. 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and as much as 60 percent of the workforce works in agriculture.

The textile and clothing industry accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports. The country is the world’s third largest exporter of clothing, after China and Turkey, but ahead of India which comes in fourth place. In total, the industry employs 3.5 million workers in Bangladesh. The clothing industry has helped speed up urbanization, many women have left the countryside to sew clothes in urban factories. H&M is one of the companies that uses several suppliers in Bangladesh, only in China does H&M have an even larger production.


India is the world’s second most populous country and the seventh largest on the surface, in addition to the world’s largest democracy. The country is multicultural and consists of 29 states. The trade union movement is particularly strong in the southern part of the country and in certain sectors of the labor market. One problem is that the trade unions are divided and linked to different political parties.


Country Facts

State condition: federal republic

Surface: 3,287,590 km2

Capital: New Delhi (See capital profile onĀ ALLCITYPOPULATION)

Language: Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 30 percent of the population, in addition to 14 other official languages: Bengali, Melugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi and Sanskrit.

Labor market and economy:

India’s economy and labor market are extremely differentiated. Many people work in ancient agriculture, often lacking modern tools. But India also has modern computer companies, a large nuclear power industry and the production of advanced weapons and its own spacecraft. Of the total workforce, about 500 million people, between five and ten percent are unionized. Together with China, India is the country in the world with the largest labor force. The majority work in the informal economy, including in small-scale agriculture and service industries. Only 15 percent of the workforce is in the organized economy, ie workers with a job.

In the organized economy, the predominance of men is great. About five times as many men as women have some form of employment. The class aspect is also noticeable. The occupations are often found in the informal economy, while salaried employees are more often employed.

Even among those with a job, however, there are large groups with precarious working conditions. The two dominant forms of insecurity in India are fixed-term employment and temporary employment. Under Indian law, a time-limited job can be as short as you like, sometimes just a day. Staffing appointments can also be terminated at short notice. In India, these categories of employment are often referred to as “hire and fire”. In both cases, workers are at risk of losing their jobs at short notice.

Both fixed-term contracts and employment via contractors or contract work are found throughout the labor market, but fixed-term employment is particularly common in the service industries, while temporary employment is particularly common in industry. In addition, there are also probationers and trainees.

Both the proportion and the number of temporary staff in India have increased over the last 20 years. However, estimates of the extent vary between different sources. According to the Indian National Labor Institute, 30 percent of all workers in the private sector and 32 percent in the public sector are employed through a staffing company (contractor). The institute further states that about half of all industrial employees are temporary employees. Other and somewhat later data (2019) indicate that about 40 per cent of all workers in industry and 10 per cent of all workers in the service industries are temporary employees.