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‘Growth Through Innovation’: Toward a Competitiveness Consensus

Christopher Colford's picture

In geometry, three points define a plane. In journalism, three events establish a trend. In public policy, three strategy forums might not conclusively confirm a consensus – but a recent think-tank trifecta suggests that a dramatic change is taking shape in the policy community’s thinking about economic competitiveness.

Thrice in recent weeks, activist strategies to inspire innovation and growth have been the front-and-center topic in major policy conferences – suggesting that an energetic new Competitiveness Consensus, applicable to developing and developed countries alike, is emerging among economic thought-leaders.

Judging by the three forums, not just academic scholars, but policymakers and lawmakers, now seem eager to apply the lessons from a slew of analyses  advocating industry-focused and productivity-driven growth strategies, taking pragmatic steps to invest in stronger competitiveness. In a global economy starved for growth  and desperate for job creation, the focus on activist policies – including targeted interventions at the industry level – is relevant to countries large and small, developed and developing.

Is labor productivity lagging despite job growth in Latin America & the Caribbean?

Murat Seker's picture

As David Francis pointed out in a recent blog, the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region showed some resilience to the heavy distortions of the recent financial crisis. Latin America’s market economy is working in a way where more productive businesses are able to survive, while less productive firms are exiting the market.

But how does this fit into the larger picture of the region’s private sector? 

A partial answer to this question is that the region’s private sector is adding jobs. Especially in a period where the developed world faced severe challenges on job creation, the region succeeded in creating new jobs by almost five percent in both manufacturing and service sectors. This trend is widespread: service sector firms in all countries – as we covered in a recent note on firm performance – added jobs. And in only 5 of the region’s countries did manufacturers decrease the number of employees on their books.

The Jobs Challenge: From Analysis to Action

Christopher Colford's picture

The enormity of the global job-creation challenge is underscored in a comprehensive new analysis by the International Finance Corporation, which issued a wide-ranging Jobs Study at a recent IFC forum  on the urgency of the unemployment crisis. More than 200 million people are now unemployed worldwide – with another 1.5 billion people only marginally employed, and with an additional 2 billion working-age adults neither working nor seeking a job.

The need for stronger and more sustainable job creation will intensify with the approach of a global demographic surge. More than 600 million people will enter the work force – just in the developing world – within the next 15 years. And that figure, quantifying the painful withering of human capital caused by the unemployment crisis doesn’t even count the job-growth needs in the crisis-stricken wealthy nations.

More, Better Jobs

Nigel Twose's picture

Like every other development institution, The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) is deeply concerned with how to create more and better jobs. There’s no question that jobs are the key issue in any discussion about ending poverty.  The 60,000 poor people who participated in Deepa Narayan's Voices of the Poor study 13 years ago were right—jobs are the surest way out of poverty for people across the world.

Today, IFC publishes a report on the findings of a study about how jobs are created by the private sector.  Given the private sector provides 90 per cent of jobs, the estimated 600 million that   need to be created by 2020 will inevitably have to come from the private sector.

Recipe for economic growth in the Philippines: invest in infrastructure, education, and job creation

Rogier van den Brink's picture
The report says that a highly-educated, healthier and skilled workforce will enhance productivity.

Economic news coming from the Philippines is surprisingly positive, and this has not gone unnoticed in international circles, judging by the number of inquiries we—the World Bank economic team in Manila that I am now leading—are getting. Our GDP growth forecast for 2012 (included in the new Philippines Quarterly Update report) is a solid 4.6 percent, while the first quarter saw an even more respectable growth rate of 6.4 percent. Other good news: foreign direct investment doubled in the first quarter, exports were up by 18 percent, and two ratings agencies upgraded their outlook on the Philippines.

However, the economy faces two challenges going forward: it will need to defend itself against a global slowdown, and it will also need to create a more inclusive growth pattern—one that creates more and better jobs, because performance on job creation has not been part of the positive news coming from the Philippines for quite a while now.

Learning from Dublin: Urban Cultural Heritage as Differentiator

Rana Amirtahmasebi's picture

IFSC Dublin, IrelandA few weeks ago, John O’Brien, the chief strategist for Ireland’s Industrial Development Agency, was at The World Bank, Washington DC to address an event on the role of cultural heritage and historic cities in Local Economic Development. The theme of the event was creating jobs by supporting historic cities and cultural heritage. Urban Sector Manager Abha Joshi-Ghani began the day’s session by underlining the significance of cultural heritage in city development: “We have started to look at cities as drivers of entrepreneurship and innovation.  It is important to understand how cities attract skilled people and industries to create jobs and what role they play in economic growth. Therefore it is very helpful to find linkages between cultural heritage assets and job creation.”

An Economy that Works: Creating jobs for the 40+ million unemployed

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution by Susan Lund, Director of Research at the McKinsey Global Institute. She will be speaking at the World Bank on the topic of job creation on January 24 as part of the FPD Chief Economist Talk series.

Perhaps no topic is more pressing today than the growing jobs and employment problem. We estimate that there are 40 million unemployed in high-income countries and tens of millions more who have dropped out of the workforce or are under-employed. Not only does this exact a toll in human misery and dampen lifetime economic prospects, but it also places a drag on aggregate demand and tax receipts at a time when both are sorely needed.

Unfortunately, these 40 million may just be the foretaste of what could be in store. Increasingly, the job market in developed economies is bifurcating: full-time employment, job security and rising incomes for high-skill, technically trained, and entrepreneurial workers—and the opposite for almost everyone else. Factories are becoming places of many robots and a few high-skill technicians. The modern office is becoming more virtual—a network of task specialists who may work remotely and are increasingly likely to be part-time or contract labor. Shops are online; those made of brick and mortar increasingly are self-serve and self-checkout.

For Love of Jobs or Money?

Michael Strauss's picture

As part of the launch of the World Bank’s World Development Report, a distinguished panel (including MIGA’s own Edith Quintrell) convened at IFC to discuss the topic of Private Sector Growth and Job Creation. Jyrki Koskelo chaired the panel and asked for a lively and frank discussion. He got more than he bargained for.

In addition to Ms. Quintrell and Mr. Koskelo, the panel included:

  • Arnold Ekpe, CEO of Eco
  • Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs, Tullow Oil
  • Justin Lin, senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank
  • Jay Naidoo, World Development Report Advisory Council Member, and, most provocatively
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

 

Philippines offers insight into future of mobile banking and the poor

James I Davison's picture

It’s now evident that people in developing countries have access to the internet and mobile phones like never before, which (as I recently wrote about) may lead to increased economic growth, job creation and good governance. A huge piece of this broad puzzle is mobile banking, and utilizing mobile phones to bring financial services to people who wouldn't otherwise have access to banks ("unbanked").

A new study, released last month by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and GSMA, estimates that there are more than one billion people worldwide who are unbanked, yet have access to mobile phones. And by 2012, that number is expected to grow to 1.7 billion people.


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