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labor markets

Moving from informal to formal sector and what it means for policymakers

Monami Dasgupta's picture
Moving workers from lower to higher productivity and work that provides better paying jobs can help poor families escape poverty. Photo: World Bank

Monami Dasgupta, guest blogger, is a Research Analyst at IFMR Finance Foundation

Some people are self-employed in the informal sector because they want to avoid registration and taxation. But many people work in the informal sector through necessity, not choice. Today, there are two features of the informal sector that are well-recognized. Firstly, much of the informal economy contributes greatly to the formal economy. Secondly, women constitute the majority of precarious, under-paid, informal workers.

Our top picks for summer reading on jobs and development

Nicholas Charles Lord's picture
The town of Mafraq in the north of Jordan had 90,000 inhabitants before the Syrian crisis, with the influx of refugees its population has swelled to 200,000. Photo: William Stebbins / World Bank

We have curated the following articles and papers for summer reading. They highlight the ongoing coverage of the impact of technology and jobs, the need for new sets of skills relevant to the digital economy, the need for refugees to find work quickly and the global imperative for creating good jobs in Africa.

Labor market polarization in developing countries: challenges ahead

Indhira Santos's picture

There is increasing evidence that labor markets in developed countries are polarizing or hollowing out. On the one hand, the share of employment in high-skilled, high-paying occupations (managers, professionals and technicians) and low-skilled, low-paying occupations (elementary, service, and sales workers) is growing. On the other hand, the share of employment in middle-skilled, middle-paying occupations (clerks, plant and machine operators) is being squeezed. There is ample evidence of polarization in the United States (see Acemoglu and Autor, 2011; Autor and Dorn, 2013; and  Autor (2014) for a less technical discussion), and also in Western Europe (Goos, Manning, and Salomons, 2014). Harrigan, Reshef and Toubal (2016), more recently, document the same phenomenon in France, using firm-level data.

Why education matters for economic development

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Young girl stands to read. Photo: © Steve Harris / World Bank


At the Global Conference on Equity and Excellence in Basic Education, in Shanghai, China, May 17-19, 2016, the World Bank will be discussing Shanghai’s eminence in ranking highly in international achievement tests. The conference will also cover how good policy can help improve education quality in other countries. See slideshow, press release, key findings . 


“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”- Laozi (老子), ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching. He is the founder of philosophical Taoism and is worshipped as a deity in Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.


There are more children in school today than ever before.  For example, in 1950 the average level of schooling in Africa was less than two years. It is more than five years today.  In East Asia and the Pacific, the schooling of the population went from two to seven years between 1950 and 2010. This is a more than a 200 percent increase! Globally, average years of schooling are now projected to rise to 10 years by 2050.  This is larger than a five-fold increase within a century and a half.

The work of women in Nigeria

Sara Johansson de Silva's picture

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest and most populous country, more women are engaging in work than ever before. By 2011, more than half (57%) of women 15-64 years old were in some form of employment. The increase in women working has been driven by women with the least amount of schooling finding work –these are the women who are more likely to be out of work than those who have had access to more schooling.

The demographic transition and labor markets in Sub-Saharan Africa

David Locke Newhouse's picture



The recent revolutions in the Middle East have brought even more urgency to the perennial challenge of how policies can help create better job opportunities for youth. North Africa, along with Sub-Saharan Africa and South India, has among the world’s highest population growth rates and as one widely quoted study put it, “the Arab Spring could not have occurred without the ideological and numerical push of a huge mass of angry youth.” Neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which still has among the highest birth rates in the world, noticed.

Avoiding the Extremes in Labor Regulations

Gordon Betcherman's picture

As governments debate labor market regulations — a highly controversial topic, sometimes for ideological reasons — it is vital to base decisions on empirical evidence. Thus, a welcome addition to the debate is the work of Gordon Betcherman — a Professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa — who contends that the key challenge for policy makers is to avoid the extremes of over- and under-regulation.

Getting Labor Market Regulations Right

David Robalino's picture

A construction worker finishes sealing glass, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo credit: Flickr @World Bank Photo Collection

Labor regulations are important to protect workers and create good jobs, though many critics contend that such policies undercut job creation. The best ways design and implement them may remain a source of debate, but research in the World Bank's 2013 World Development Report on Jobs shows that these regulations don't have much impact on employment, and can even prevent worker abuse and inadequate working conditions.

Migration and Developing Country Labor Markets

Amelie Constant's picture

In developed countries, vocal debates about how much immigration is desirable often make the headlines, but what’s the case for migration in the developing world? We recently discussed this topic with one of the leading experts on the economics of migration — Amelie Constant, Program Director of Migration at the Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn), and a visiting professor at George Washington University and Temple University.

Spain's Hard-Hit Labor Market

Núria Rodríguez-Planas's picture

In the first quarter of 2013, Spain had the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, at 27 percent, along with Greece. For youth, the situation was even worse, at over 50 percent. It's a dramatic turnaround from early 2008, when overall unemployment was around 8 percent. But that was before the recession set in and the real estate bubble burst.. The JKP recently spoke with Nuria Rodriguez-Planas, a Visiting Research Fellow at Germany's Institute of Labor (IZA), about how Spain's labor market has evolved.


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