participation ratethe proportion of a country's total POPULATION that makes up the country's LABOUR FORCE. For example, the UK's total population in 2004 was 59 million and its labour force numbered 29 million, giving an overall activity rate of 49%. Similar activity rate calculations can be done for subsets of the population such as men, women, ethnic groups, etc.
The activity rate is influenced by social customs and government policies affecting, for example, the school-leaving age and the proportion of young people remaining in further and higher education beyond that age; the ‘official’ retirement age and the proportion of older people retiring early or working beyond the retirement age. Opportunities for PART-TIME WORK and job-sharing can also influence, in particular female, participation rates. In addition, government TAXATION policies can also affect activity rates insofar as high marginal tax rates may serve to deter some people from offering themselves for employment (see POVERTY TRAP). See LABOUR MARKET, DISGUISED ( CONCEALED) UNEMPLOYMENT.