Jobs are a cornerstone of development, says World Development Report 2013

The World Development Report 2013: Jobs <http://go.worldbank.org/TM7GTEB8U0> stresses the role of strong private sector led growth in creating jobs and outlines how jobs that do the most for development can spur a virtuous cycle. The report finds that poverty falls as people work their way out of hardship and as jobs empower women to invest more in their children. Efficiency increases as workers get better at what they do, as more productive jobs appear, and as less productive ones disappear. Societies flourish as jobs foster diversity and provide alternatives to conflict.

In developing countries, jobs are a cornerstone of development, with a pay off far beyond income alone. They are critical for reducing poverty, making cities work, and providing youth with alternatives to violence, says a new World Bank report.

The report’s authors highlight how jobs with the greatest development payoffs are those that raise incomes, make cities function better, connect the economy to global markets, protect the environment, and give people a stake in their societies.

The global economic crisis and other recent events have raised employment issues to the center of the development dialogue. The WDR authors, who processed over 800 surveys and censuses to arrive at their findings, estimate that worldwide, more than 3 billion people are working, but nearly half work in farming, small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labor, where safety nets are modest or sometimes non-existent and earnings are often meager.

Policy makers should tackle these challenges by answering such questions as: Should countries build their development strategies around growth, or should they focus on jobs? Can entrepreneurship be fostered, especially among microenterprises in developing countries, or are entrepreneurs born? Are greater investments in education and training a prerequisite for employability, or can skills be built through jobs? Amidst crises and structural shifts, should jobs, not just workers, be protected?

Jobs agendas at the country level are connected by the migration of people and the migration of jobs. Policies for jobs in one country can thus have spillovers on other countries – both positive and negative. The report explores whether international coordination mechanisms, such as bilateral migration agreements, could enhance the positives and mitigate the negatives.

Conclusion

The WDR recommends moving jobs centre stage in the development debate. It states that growth strategies in many cases are not sufficient to achieve significant improvements in living standards, productivity and social cohesion. A positive feature of the report is that it does not shy away from difficult issues and also considers unconventional views. However, its recommendations for courses of action fall significantly short of the detailed problem analysis. It leaves largely unanswered the question of how exactly the recommended types of jobs are to be promoted. Julia Kubny in KfW Development Policy Brief No. 16, 4 October 2012 http://tinyurl.com/8swg6de

Jobs Knowledge Platform

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