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Laos

Boats on the Mekong river near Luang Prabang, Laos

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Overview

A booming economy and great need for reforms

For centuries, Laos was the subject of the expansionist ambitions of its powerful neighbours Burma, Siam (Thailand) and Viet Nam. Then in 1893, it was made part of the French colony of Indochina. Laos gained independence in 1954 but then plunged into twenty years of civil war, which finally ended in 1975 when the communist people's front Pathet Lao took power. Since then, the Lao People's Democratic Republic has been a socialist single-party system.

It is the declared goal of the Lao government to enable the country to graduate from the group of least developed countries (LDCs) by 2024. Economically, Laos has become more open since the mid-1980s and has introduced market elements.

Reforms are needed, in particular, in the areas of sustainability, democracy and the rule of law, and transparency.

The remarkable economic growth Laos has seen in the past few years has been generated mainly by export activities, with little diversification of the economy and strong reliance on commodities (especially hydropower, mining and agriculture). The level of industrial processing and the impact in terms jobs are low. The growth has been based on the expansion of plantations and on major mining projects and the construction of dams. The current growth model has considerable negative impacts on the environment. Its effects in terms of poverty reduction are insufficient.

Lao-German relations

The Federal Republic of Germany and Laos have maintained diplomatic relations since 1958. After the communists seized power in Laos in 1975, bilateral development cooperation with the then Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was suspended until 1990. During this period, however, Laos was a partner country of the German Democratic Republic (GDR/East Germany). This was the starting point for the Federal Republic of Germany to restart its cooperation with the country in 1990.

Current priority areas of Lao-German development cooperation are rural development and sustainable economic development.

Straight to

Development facts and figures from Laos

  • Snack bar at the morning market in Vientiane, Laos
    Political situation

    A People's Republic with far-reaching governance deficits

    The Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the successor to Pathet Lao, remains the only legal political party in Laos. Democratic institutions and the rule of law are weak.

  • Workers in a textile factory in Laos on their way to work
    Economic situation

    Market system and regional cooperation

    Since the mid-1980s, the Lao government has been endeavouring to transform the country's centrally planned economy into a market economy. For example, government-fixed prices and subsidies have been abolished, and a banking system based on western models has been introduced.

  • Woman in a village in northern Laos
    Social situation

    Progress on poverty reduction

    Laos is remarkable for its great diversity, with 49 officially recognised ethnic groups. Most people live in the Mekong plains, particularly in the region surrounding the capital city, Vientiane.

  • Rubber plantation
    Environmental situation

    Economic growth at the expense of the environment

    The rapid modernisation of the Lao economy, with the expansion of plantation agriculture and with large-scale mining and dam construction projects, has impacted negatively on the environment in recent years.

Snack bar at the morning market in Vientiane, Laos
Political situation

A People's Republic with far-reaching governance deficits

The Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the successor to Pathet Lao, remains the only legal political party in Laos. Democratic institutions and the rule of law are weak. Political rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press are subject to significant constraints. There are no independent monitoring mechanisms to protect human rights.

Pervasive corruption

While the government that has been in office since April 2016 has made some initial strides in the fight against corruption, corruption nonetheless continues to affect nearly all areas of public life. On the Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Laos ranked 132nd out of the 180 countries evaluated in 2018.

Consequences of the war can still be felt

One problem that affects the country to this day is mines and unexploded ordnance from the Viet Nam war. While Laos was officially neutral during the war, supply routes for the communist Viet Cong passed through the country, and as a result Laos was bombed by the United States. Measured against the size of its population and its land area, Laos is deemed the most heavily bombed country on earth. Large parts of the country have not yet been fully cleared of ordinance. Every year, people are killed or severely injured as a result.

An employee of the documentation and rehabilitation centre COPE for victims of mines and cluster munitions in Vientiane, Laos, makes a lower leg prosthesis.
Workers in a textile factory in Laos on their way to work
Economic situation

Market system and regional cooperation

Since the mid-1980s, the Lao government has been endeavouring to transform the country's centrally planned economy into a market economy. For example, government-fixed prices and subsidies have been abolished, and a banking system based on western models has been introduced. Private enterprise is being promoted by the government.

Since 1997 Laos has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since 2015, it has been part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) free trade zone. In 2013, the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In the past few years, the Lao economy has grown by about seven per cent a year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects that the growth rate will remain around that level in the coming years. In rural areas, smallholder subsistence farming has increasingly been displaced by industrialised agriculture. However, the total contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped to 16 per cent. Industry accounts for about 30 per cent, and as much as 48 per cent of GDP is now generated by the services sector.

Development potential

Laos is rich in natural resources. It has mineral resources such as gold, copper, bauxite and tin. Some 40 per cent of the country's territory is covered by forest.

One important factor for the future of Laos is its vast hydropower potential. On the one hand, it enables the country to export electricity. On the other hand, the construction of further hydropower plants is meeting with criticism in neighbouring countries and is also controversial from an environmental point of view. Development opportunities that could still be tapped to a greater extent are offered by ecotourism, which would be attractive because of the country's diverse fauna and flora.

Another great potential lies in the young population of Laos. One third of its nearly seven million people are under the age of 15. However, the poor level of educational attainment and the low level of labour productivity still constitute major constraints to investment for many companies.

Woman in a village in northern Laos
Social situation

Progress on poverty reduction

Laos is remarkable for its great diversity, with 49 officially recognised ethnic groups. Most people live in the Mekong plains, particularly in the region surrounding the capital city, Vientiane.

According to the World Bank, annual per capita income was 2,270 US dollars in 2017, which is eight times as much as in 2000. Yet nearly 20 per cent of the country's close to seven million people live below the national poverty line. In the latest Human Development Index (HDI), Laos ranks 139th out of 189 countries.

The government's National Socio-Economic Development Plans (NSEDPs) always cover a period of five years. The 8th NSEDP for the period of 2016 to 2020 has been closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda.

Over the last two decades, considerable progress has been made in reducing poverty, creating access to safe drinking water and reducing child mortality. Deficits persist in the following areas in particular: nutrition, health and education, environmental protection and gender equality.

Rubber plantation
Environmental situation

Economic growth at the expense of the environment

The rapid modernisation of the Lao economy, with the expansion of plantation agriculture and with large-scale mining and dam construction projects, has impacted negatively on the environment in recent years. Moreover, the construction of hydropower stations on the Mekong River has led to some disagreements with the neighbouring countries Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand, which are located downriver. They fear drawbacks for their fisheries and agriculture. Environmentalists are warning of incalculable risks for the ecological balance in the region.

As part of a regional programme, Germany assists the Mekong River Commission (which was set up by the four riparian countries) in developing joint strategies and guidelines for sustainable hydropower development and adaptation to climate change.

Loss of soil and forests

For a long time, the government pursued a "land-to-capital" strategy, which robbed many smallholders of their livelihoods and led to considerable environmental damage. For example, the use of large amounts of pesticides and fertiliser at plantations has led to massive land degradation.

The share of forest area in Laos has declined from 70 to about 40 per cent over the last few years, the main causes being illegal logging, the construction of dams and roads, and the establishment of rubber and banana plantations. In its latest Development Plan, Laos has set itself the goal of bringing the share of forest area back to 70 per cent by 2020 through reforestation efforts.

A policy of "green growth"

Progress in developing the country will essentially depend on how well Laos succeeds in balancing economic growth with the sustainable use of environmental resources, and in ensuring that the growth is pro-poor. The country has now committed itself to a policy of "green growth". It was the first ASEAN country to ratify the Paris Agreement, and it has defined ambitious climate action targets in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

German development cooperation with Laos

Within the OECD, Germany is the second largest bilateral donor to Laos after Japan. At the government negotiations in September 2018, Germany committed 50 million euros in new funding for development cooperation with Laos for the years 2018 and 2019. This comprises 30 million euros in Financial cooperation funding and 20 million euros in Technical Cooperation funding.

The funding includes a special commitment of 10 million euros for reconstruction after a disastrous flood in July 2018. Following heavy rains, the collapse of a dam caused severe damage in the southern province of Attapeu. Thousands of homes were swept away, fields were destroyed, rural infrastructure sustained heavy damage.

Lao-German development cooperation focuses on the following priority areas:

  • Rural development (including natural resource management)
  • Sustainable economic development

In addition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports civic engagement for good governance, government accountability and the rule of law.

A farmer in rural Laos
Priority area "Rural development"

Better infrastructure, secure tenure, forest protection

In the rural areas of Laos – where around 65 per cent of the people live – infrastructure in the areas of mobility, water, electricity and telecommunications is not very developed. As a result, economic potential cannot be tapped and social inclusion cannot develop in these regions, and people remain poor.

Lao-German development cooperation is helping to improve living conditions, particularly in the difficult-to-access highland regions. One approach is to improve the rural road network and to repair bridges, which gives people access to markets, schools and health facilities.

Land management

Germany is also working to ensure better and sustainable land management and secure tenure for smallholders. The local population is actively involved in drawing up village development and land use plans. In order to enhance legal certainty, support is being provided to government authorities as they systematically survey, register and title communal plots of land.

Protection of forests and biodiversity

Since 2008, a programme to protect the climate by avoiding deforestation has been an important component of bilateral cooperation activities. The programme has two objectives: one is to step up the conservation of Laos' abundant forest resources and biodiversity – as the country's contribution to global climate protection efforts; the other is to improve the economic and social living conditions of the rural population by managing natural resources sustainably.

To that end, efforts are being undertaken to improve the dialogue between the authorities and local people, and development partnerships with the private sector are being established in order to foster the development of ecotourism. Another component of the programme involves support for environmental education in provinces, districts and villages that are taking part in the forest protection programme.

On behalf of the BMZ, GIZ is assisting the Lao government in concluding a voluntary bilateral partnership agreement with the European Union concerning trade in timber products certified as coming from legal logging.

Student at the Lao-German Technical School in Vientiane, Laos
Priority area "Sustainable economic development"

Vocational training, microfinance and regional integration

Laos is undergoing an extensive process of reform to convert its centrally planned economy to a market system. However, a weak financial sector, poor vocational training opportunities, institutional weaknesses and a lack of legal certainty are constraining the country's economic development.

The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 created a major new single market in Asia. For Laos to benefit from this market, numerous regulatory and administrative provisions need to be adapted and implemented. Germany is providing advice to Laos with regard to managing, coordinating and monitoring this process of economic integration.

Vocational training

In order to open up new employment opportunities specifically for the young generation, Germany is helping Laos to improve its vocational training system in terms of both quality and quantity. This includes expanding vocational training schools and providing technical equipment for them, developing a national strategy for dual (industry-based and school-based) vocational education, and providing systematic pre- and in-service training for vocational school teachers.

Financial system development

Until now, only few financial services have been available for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Laos. Germany is providing support to the Lao central bank in expanding the microfinance sector and enhancing financial literacy among the people, and in developing consumer protection regulations.

The establishment of microfinance institutions and village banks is intended to give people, especially rural people, a chance to finance small investments. Among other things, KfW Development Bank is contributing to a microfinance fund set up by ACLEDA Bank Lao in order to enable the bank to provide affordable loans for poor households and MSMEs.

Map of Laos

This map does not necessarily reflect the official position of the German government in terms of international law.

Development facts and figures

  Laos Data for Germany
Country namea16180138 Lao People's Democratic Republic (République Démocratique Populaire Lao, Saathalanalat Pasathipatai Pasason Lao) Federal Republic of Germany
Capitala16180110 Vientiane, approximately 800,000 inhabitants Berlin, 3.7 million inhabitants
Surface areaa16180096 236,800 sq km (2018) 357,580 sq km (2018)
Ranking Human Development Index (HDI)a16180124 139 of 189 (2017) 5 of 189 (2017)
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.SRF.TOTL.K2

Surface area

Surface area is a country's total area, including areas under inland bodies of water and some coastal waterways.

http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

Ranking Human Development Index (HDI)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) publishes a Human Development Report once a year. The Human Development Index (HDI) contained in the Report records average figures for a country in fundamentally important fields of human development. These include, for example, life expectancy at birth, level of education and per capita income. From a large number of such individual indicators a ranking is calculated. Using this ranking it is possible to establish the average development status of a particular country.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS

Population living in rural areas (% of total)

Rural population refers to people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the difference between total population and urban population.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN

Life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.65UP.TO.ZS

Population ages 65 and above (% of total)

 

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.0014.TO.ZS

Population ages 0-14 (% of total)

 

http://www.bmz.de/en/index.html

Volume of German development cooperation

Funds for development cooperation (Technical and Financial Cooperation) committed by the Federal Republic of Germany under intergovernmental agreements.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.ODA.ODAT.CD

Total amount of ODA received

Net official development assistance (ODA) consists of disbursements of loans made on concessional terms (net of repayments of principal) and grants by official agencies of the members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), by multilateral institutions, and by non-DAC countries to promote economic development and welfare in countries and territories in the DAC list of ODA recipients. It includes loans with a grant element of at least 25 percent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 percent). Data are in current U.S. dollars.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.ODA.ODAT.PC.ZS

Amount of ODA received per capita

Net official development assistance (ODA) per capita consists of disbursements of loans made on concessional terms (net of repayments of principal) and grants by official agencies of the members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), by multilateral institutions, and by non-DAC countries to promote economic development and welfare in countries and territories in the DAC list of ODA recipients; and is calculated by dividing net ODA received by the midyear population estimate. It includes loans with a grant element of at least 25 percent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 percent). Data are in current U.S. dollars.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SN.ITK.DEFC.ZS

Undernutrition

Population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (also referred to as prevalence of undernourishment) shows the percentage of the population whose food intake is insufficient to meet dietary energy requirements continuously. Data showing as 2.5 signifies a prevalence of undernourishment below 2.5%.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC

Population living below the national poverty line (% of total)

National poverty rate is the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line. National estimates are based on population-weighted subgroup estimates from household surveys.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.DDAY

Population living in absolute poverty (% of total)

The percentage of the population living on less than 1.90 US dollars a day at 2011 international prices. The World Bank last changed the definition of this poverty line in October 2015. Previously, it was defined as the percentage of the population living on less than 1.25 US dollars a day at 2005 international prices. Five countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Jordan and Laos) still use this older definition.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.CMPT.ZS

Children who complete primary school (% of total)

Primary completion rate is the percentage of students completing the last year of primary school. It is calculated by taking the total number of students in the last grade of primary school, minus the number of repeaters in that grade, divided by the total number of children of official graduation age.

When using this method of calculation the result may be greater than 100 per cent for some countries. This just means that the number of children completing their primary school education in that particular school year was higher than the number of children who were of official school leaving age.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.NENR

Proportion of school age children attending primary school

Net enrollment ratio is the ratio of children of official school age based on the International Standard Classification of Education 1997 who are enrolled in school to the population of the corresponding official school age. Primary education provides children with basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills along with an elementary understanding of such subjects as history, geography, natural science, social science, art, and music.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS

Literacy rate

Adult literacy rate is the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS

Public spending on education

Public expenditure on education consists of current and capital public expenditure on education includes government spending on educational institutions (both public and private), education administration as well as subsidies for private entities (students/households and other privates entities).

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.ENRL.TC.ZS

Number of pupils per teacher at primary school level

Primary school pupil-teacher ratio is the number of pupils enrolled in primary school divided by the number of primary school teachers (regardless of their teaching assignment).

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.H2O.SAFE.ZS

Percentage of the population with sustainable access to safe drinking water

Access to an improved water source refers to the percentage of the population with reasonable access to an adequate amount of water from an improved source, such as a household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected well or spring, and rainwater collection. Unimproved sources include vendors, tanker trucks, and unprotected wells and springs. Reasonable access is defined as the availability of at least 20 liters a person a day from a source within one kilometer of the dwelling.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.IMM.IDPT

Immunization, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) (% of children ages 12-23 months)

Child immunization measures the percentage of children ages 12-23 months who received vaccinations before 12 months or at any time before the survey. A child is considered adequately immunized against diphtheria, pertussis (or whooping cough), and tetanus (DPT) after receiving three doses of vaccine.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.ACSN

Improved sanitation facilities (% of population with access)

Access to an improved water source refers to the percentage of the population with reasonable access to an adequate amount of water from an improved source, such as a household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected well or spring, and rainwater collection. Unimproved sources include vendors, tanker trucks, and unprotected wells and springs. Reasonable access is defined as the availability of at least 20 liters a person a day from a source within one kilometer of the dwelling.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.SMSS.ZS

People using safely managed sanitation services (% of population)

The percentage of people using improved sanitation facilities that are not shared with other households and where excreta are safely disposed of in situ or transported and treated offsite. Improved sanitation facilities include flush/pour flush to piped sewer systems, septic tanks or pit latrines: ventilated improved pit latrines, compositing toilets or pit latrines with slabs.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.BRTC.ZS

Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total)

Births attended by skilled health staff are the percentage of deliveries attended by personnel trained to give the necessary supervision, care, and advice to women during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period; to conduct deliveries on their own; and to care for newborns.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.ANVC.ZS

Pregnant women receiving prenatal care (%)

Pregnant women receiving prenatal care are the percentage of women attended at least once during pregnancy by skilled health personnel for reasons related to pregnancy.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.DYN.MORT

Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)

Under-five mortality rate is the probability per 1,000 that a newborn baby will die before reaching age five, if subject to current age-specific mortality rates.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT

Number of mothers who die during pregnancy or childbirth (per 100,000 live births)

Maternal mortality ratio is the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, per 100,000 live births. The data are estimated with a regression model using information on fertility, birth attendants, and HIV prevalence.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.DYN.AIDS.ZS

HIV/AIDS prevalence among the 15-49 age group

Prevalence of HIV refers to the percentage of people ages 15-49 who are infected with HIV.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.GHED.GD.ZS

Domestic general government health expenditure (% of GDP)

Public expenditure on health from domestic sources as a share of the economy as measured by GDP.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.H2O.SMDW.ZS

People using safely managed drinking water services (% of population)

The percentage of people using drinking water from an improved source that is accessible on premises, available when needed and free from faecal and priority chemical contamination. Improved water sources include piped water, boreholes or tubewells, protected dug wells, protected springs, and packaged or delivered water.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.ROD.PAVE.ZS

Roads, paved (% of total roads)

Paved roads are those surfaced with crushed stone (macadam) and hydrocarbon binder or bituminized agents, with concrete, or with cobblestones, as a percentage of all the country's roads, measured in length.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS

Individuals using the Internet (% of population)

Internet users are individuals who have used the Internet (from any location) in the last 3 months. The Internet can be used via a computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, games machine, digital TV etc.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.VEH.PCAR.P3

Passenger cars (per 1,000 people)

Passenger cars refer to road motor vehicles, other than two-wheelers, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine people (including the driver).

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.CEL.SETS.P2

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Mobile cellular telephone subscriptions are subscriptions to a public mobile telephone service using cellular technology, which provide access to the public switched telephone network. Post-paid and prepaid subscriptions are included.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS

Land under cultivation (% of total land area)

Agricultural land refers to the share of land area that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pastures. Arable land includes land defined by the FAO as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded. Land under permanent crops is land cultivated with crops that occupy the land for long periods and need not be replanted after each harvest, such as cocoa, coffee, and rubber. This category includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, but excludes land under trees grown for wood or timber. Permanent pasture is land used for five or more years for forage, including natural and cultivated crops.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ER.LND.PTLD.ZS

Land classified as conservation areas (% of total land area)

Terrestrial protected areas are those officially documented by national authorities.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS

Forested land (% of total land area)

Forest area is land under natural or planted stands of trees of at least 5 meters in situ, whether productive or not, and excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems (for example, in fruit plantations and agroforestry systems) and trees in urban parks and gardens.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

Level of carbon emissions per capita (in tons)

Carbon dioxide emissions are those stemming from the burning of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. They include carbon dioxide produced during consumption of solid, liquid, and gas fuels and gas flaring.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.ELEC.KH.PC

Power consumption per inhabitant

Electric power consumption measures the production of power plants and combined heat and power plants less transmission, distribution, and transformation losses and own use by heat and power plants.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS

Jobs in agriculture (% of total)

Employees are people who work for a public or private employer and receive remuneration in wages, salary, commission, tips, piece rates, or pay in kind. Agriculture corresponds to division 1 (ISIC revision 2) or tabulation categories A and B (ISIC revision 3) and includes hunting, forestry, and fishing.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.IMP.CONS.ZS

Energy imports (% of total energy consumption)

Net energy imports are estimated as energy use less production, both measured in oil equivalents. A negative value indicates that the country is a net exporter. Energy use refers to use of primary energy before transformation to other end-use fuels, which is equal to indigenous production plus imports and stock changes, minus exports and fuels supplied to ships and aircraft engaged in international transport.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.0714.ZS

Child labour (% of children aged 7 to 14)

Economically active children refer to children involved in economic activity for at least one hour in the reference week of the survey.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.TOTL.ZS

Unemployment rate

Unemployment refers to the share of the labor force that is without work but available for and seeking employment. Definitions of labor force and unemployment differ by country.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/BX.KLT.DINV.CD.WD

Foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current US$)

Foreign direct investment are the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest (10 percent or more of voting stock) in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor. It is the sum of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in the balance of payments. This series shows net inflows (new investment inflows less disinvestment) in the reporting economy from foreign investors. Data are in current U.S. Dollars.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.DOD.DECT.CD

Total foreign debt

Total external debt is debt owed to non-residents repayable in foreign currency, goods, or services. Total external debt is the sum of public, publicly guaranteed, and private nonguaranteed long-term debt, use of IMF credit, and short-term debt. Short-term debt includes all debt having an original maturity of one year or less and interest in arrears on long-term debt. Data are in current U.S. dollars.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.ATLS.CD

GNI (current US$)

GNI (formerly GNP) is the sum of value added by all resident producers plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad. Data are in current U.S. dollars. GNI, calculated in national currency, is usually converted to U.S. dollars at official exchange rates for comparisons across economies, although an alternative rate is used when the official exchange rate is judged to diverge by an exceptionally large margin from the rate actually applied in international transactions. To smooth fluctuations in prices and exchange rates, a special Atlas method of conversion is used by the World Bank. This applies a conversion factor that averages the exchange rate for a given year and the two preceding years, adjusted for differences in rates of inflation between the country, and through 2000, the G-5 countries (France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). From 2001, these countries include the Euro area, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

GNI per capita (current US$)

GNI per capita (formerly GNP per capita) is the gross national income, converted to U.S. dollars using the World Bank Atlas method, divided by the midyear population. GNI is the sum of value added by all resident producers plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad. GNI, calculated in national currency, is usually converted to U.S. dollars at official exchange rates for comparisons across economies, although an alternative rate is used when the official exchange rate is judged to diverge by an exceptionally large margin from the rate actually applied in international transactions. To smooth fluctuations in prices and exchange rates, a special Atlas method of conversion is used by the World Bank. This applies a conversion factor that averages the exchange rate for a given year and the two preceding years, adjusted for differences in rates of inflation between the country, and through 2000, the G-5 countries (France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). From 2001, these countries include the Euro area, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NE.EXP.GNFS.ZS

Exports of goods and services (% of GDP)

Exports of goods and services represent the value of all goods and other market services provided to the rest of the world. They include the value of merchandise, freight, insurance, transport, travel, royalties, license fees, and other services, such as communication, construction, financial, information, business, personal, and government services. They exclude compensation of employees and investment income (formerly called factor services) and transfer payments.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NE.IMP.GNFS.ZS

Imports of goods and services (% of GDP)

Imports of goods and services represent the value of all goods and other market services received from the rest of the world. They include the value of merchandise, freight, insurance, transport, travel, royalties, license fees, and other services, such as communication, construction, financial, information, business, personal, and government services. They exclude compensation of employees and investment income (formerly called factor services) and transfer payments.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/FP.CPI.TOTL.ZG

Inflation

Inflation as measured by the consumer price index reflects the annual percentage change in the cost to the average consumer of acquiring a basket of goods and services that may be fixed or changed at specified intervals, such as yearly. The Laspeyres formula is generally used.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.TDS.DECT.EX.ZS

Debt service as percentage of exports of goods and services and net income from abroad

Total debt service is the sum of principal repayments and interest actually paid in foreign currency, goods, or services on long-term debt, interest paid on short-term debt, and repayments (repurchases and charges) to the IMF. Exports of goods and services includes income and workers' remittances.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.IND.TOTL.ZS

Industry, value added (% of GDP)

Industry corresponds to ISIC divisions 10-45 and includes manufacturing (ISIC divisions 15-37). It comprises value added in mining, manufacturing (also reported as a separate subgroup), construction, electricity, water, and gas. Value added is the net output of a sector after adding up all outputs and subtracting intermediate inputs. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or depletion and degradation of natural resources. The origin of value added is determined by the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), revision 3.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.AGR.TOTL.ZS

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Agriculture corresponds to ISIC divisions 1-5 and includes forestry, hunting, and fishing, as well as cultivation of crops and livestock production. Value added is the net output of a sector after adding up all outputs and subtracting intermediate inputs. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or depletion and degradation of natural resources. The origin of value added is determined by the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), revision 3.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.SRV.TOTL.ZS

Services, value added (% of GDP)

Services correspond to ISIC divisions 50-99 and they include value added in wholesale and retail trade (including hotels and restaurants), transport, and government, financial, professional, and personal services such as education, health care, and real estate services. Also included are imputed bank service charges, import duties, and any statistical discrepancies noted by national compilers as well as discrepancies arising from rescaling. Value added is the net output of a sector after adding up all outputs and subtracting intermediate inputs. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or depletion and degradation of natural resources. The industrial origin of value added is determined by the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), revision 3 or 4.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG

GDP growth (annual %)

Annual percentage growth rate of GDP at market prices based on constant local currency. Aggregates are based on constant 2000 U.S. dollars. GDP is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources

Further information

A selection of links with further development-related background information on Laos

BMZ glossary

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