The inaugural Annual Bank Conference on Africa examined strategies for converting economic growth into poverty reduction. Taking an economic historian’s perspective, the prospects are complicated by long-term shifts in fundamental patterns, specifically from land abundance to land scarcity and, relatedly, from labor repression to landlessness as the principal source of poverty.
When economists think about price shocks, they consider how a change in price will affect the supply and demand of a product. But when that product is human – i.e., a worker – interpreting the impact of a price – or wage – shock is no longer cut and dried.
Just consider: If your wage was suddenly cut, would you remain in your current job despite the loss in earnings? Would you quit immediately, or look for a new job while continuing to work? How long could you survive on your lower earnings? Would you be forced to sell your house or other assets? How much money and effort would you invest in finding a better job? Would your personal circumstances allow you to take a better job in a distant location? Would you uproot your family for this job?
The Chinese economy has changed dramatically over the last three decades. While its per-capita income was only a third of that of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1978, it has now reached an upper-middle income status, lifting more than half a billion people out of poverty. The numbers are dramatic: per capita income has doubled for more than a billion people in just 12 years. What was once a primarily rural, agricultural economy has been transformed into an increasingly urban and diversified economic structure, with decentralization and market-based relations rising relative to the traditional government driven command-based economy.
Brazil’s success in reducing poverty and income inequality has been widely reported in recent years.
Over the past few decades, there has been a global resurgence of large-scale immigration. In 2010, according to the United Nations, the number of immigrants worldwide reached a high of about 214 million people — which is about 3.1 percent of the world's population. The biggest flows have been from developing to developed countries, where immigrants now make up about 10.3 percent of the total population. Not surprisingly, one of the hottest topics these days is about which types of immigration policies make sense for a government as a whole even if some specific groups lose out in the process.
Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
How much a worker earns for her or his labor is important for different reasons. First, it matters with regard to poverty since labor income counts usually for an important share of households' revenue. Secondly, it influences firms' competitiveness, especially for labor intensive activities such as manufacturing and agriculture. Thirdly, it is relevant for equity as anybody should expect a fair remuneration for his efforts. It is therefore not surprising that wages have attracted a lot of attention from economists and policy makers across the world over the years.
The Wage Board on garments in Bangladesh nearly doubled minimum wages on July 29, 2010. The minimum wage at the entry level will be raised to Tk 3,000 a month (or about $43) from Tk 1,662.50 ($24). The new pay structure, proposed to be effective from November 1, maintains the existing seven grades with the highest pay fixed at Tk 9,300 ($140) per month. About 3.5 million Bangladeshis work in the garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports. International companies like Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Zara, Tesco, Carrefour, Gap, Metro, Marks & Spencer, Kohl's, Levi Strauss and Tommy Hilfiger all import in bulk from Bangladesh.
Garment workers apparently are unhappy over their wages, even after the proposed increase. They protested by smashing vehicles and blocking traffic in various garment sites in Dhaka following the announcement of the wage increase. Why has the frequency of violence increased?