Observation of open unemployment in developing countries has lead some economist to formulate models which seek to explain this phenomenon. This paper examines unemployment in Sri Lanka in detail to see whether the assumptions and conclusions of economists’ models are consistent with empirical data. In the case of Sri Lanka, these models provide a useful starting point but miss some of the essential details. Unti1 one examines how the unemployed support themselves and how they spend their time, one’s understanding of this phenomenon, as well as one’s suggestions for policy changes, is necessarily incomplete.
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