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Labor and Social Protection

Local elections in Pakistan: A chance to improve public services

Ming Zhang's picture
Discussing public services in Pakistan
Discussing public services in Pakistan. Credit: GSP/MDTF/2013
I arrived in Pakistan right after the third round of local elections held in most provinces on December 5.

​This was the first local election in 10 years in most places of the country. Voters elected council members of three tiers of local governments: district, urban councils, and union council/ward.

How will these elections impact the lives of average citizens?

International experiences have shown that the main benefit of elected local bodies is their closeness to citizens, which allows them to be much more responsive – although with sustained hard work -- to improving local services such as waste, water, sewerage and transportation.

In a report about managing spatial transformation in South Asia launched at the 3rd Pakistan Urban Forum, we highlighted that passing reforms aimed at revitalizing urban governance is critical to make South Asia cities more livable and prosperous (see chapter 3 of the report).

To that end, we identified three closely related "deficits" -- empowerment, resource, and accountability -- which, if tackled properly, could lead to improved local urban governance.

The recent local elections in Pakistan are important steps toward reducing these three deficits. The new local government laws, which were enacted in most provinces in 2013, started to re-empower local governments after the expiration of the earlier 2001 Local Government Act.
 

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

‘Tis the season to be anti-poverty

Elisabetta Capannelli's picture
World Bank Country Manager for Romania Elisabetta Capannelli and her
daughter, who was an orphan in Manilla before joining Capannelli's family.
Reeling from a long year of work and toil, December is the month we turn toward our families and friends with joy and gratitude.  December is a month of great generosity. Some of us have so much to give that we also look outside our families and think about those who are hungriest for warmth, joy and support. Here in Bucharest it is common to step-up our efforts and bid for charity. Initiatives to help children, including support for those in foster homes and orphanages, abound.
 
Romania’s recent history saw the country register very high rates of child abandonment. In the early ‘90s, Romania’s child protection relied on large institutions - which offered poor conditions to more than 100,000 children – and we know these children are some of the least fortunate members of society. Nowadays, Romania has not only halved the number of children in the child protection system but it is also promoting a major shift away from institutional care towards more individualized and efficient forms of care, such as extended family, foster families, and family-like homes.
 
Still, psychological strains and tragedies persist - even in this newer, more modern system. Recently, a 14 year old girl from a child protection center decided to take her life because she had been returned to the orphanage after living with a foster mother for 11 years. Her foster mother had fallen ill and the family could not manage to care for her and the other children at the same time. In her suicide note, she told her adoptive mother she loved her and that she couldn’t stand the fact that she was taken away.

For me, an adoptive mother of a now 23-year-old daughter who was abandoned at birth and that joined my family from an orphanage in Manila - first as a foster child and then as an adopted child - this story brings home many memories and a stark reminder that the agenda is still out there.

Less is more for unions in Central and Eastern Europe

Iga Magda's picture

There is evidence that firm- and industry-level agreements that led to wage premia in CEE countries increased after EU entry. These agreements were negotiated by trade unions with employers or employer associations. But union membership in these countries has been falling since the 1990s. At the same time that union members became less numerous, they managed however to be more effective in negotiating their objectives, especially with regard to the wages of workers covered by collective agreements.

The unfinished business of pension reform in Moldova

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
Costesti village, central Moldova. Photo by Elena Prodan / World Bank

In the early to mid-1990s, the Moldovan Government often didn’t pay pensions on time – sometimes they were up to two years late. And, they were often paid in-kind. This situation was a syndrome of the trials and tribulations that the country was experiencing in its tumultuous transition to a market economy.
 
Reform of the pension system was initiated in the late ‘90s to try to fix some of the more pressing challenges by restoring fiscal balance and helping put payments on a sustainable track – essentially meaning that payments were now made in cash, rather than in galoshes or umbrellas.
 
Similar to Moldova’s protracted transition to a free market, however, the reform of the country’s pension system is largely a story of “unfinished business”. One important reason for this is that the 1998 pension reform envisaged a phased increase in the retirement age up to 65 years for both men and women, and clear linkages between salary contributions and pension payments. This aimed to motivate Moldovans to participate in the system, but after a few years of implementation, the gradual increase in retirement age was put on hold. And, because the retirement age didn’t increase, the planned increase in the value of pensions was put on hold too.

The consequences of banning child labor

Caio Piza's picture
From a normative perspective, we can all agree that child labor is reprehensible and should be banned, particularly in its worst forms. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), child labor has declined worldwide in the last fifteen years, but the numbers are still alarming. In 2012, 168 million children were a part of child labor with more than half of these kids involved in hazardous work.  

Finding employment for young people of all abilities

Matt Hobson's picture
Young women from family with members with disabilities being taught to use a sewing machine.
India. Photo: © John Isaac / World Bank

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
 
In every society globally, unemployment rates for persons with disabilities are higher than for people without disabilities. The International Labor Organization reports that, in some Asia-Pacific countries, the unemployment rate of people living with disabilities is over 80%. 

Including persons with disabilities into development: the way forward

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
An estimated 15% of the global population, or about 1 billion people, experience some form of disability. Persons with disabilities face many barriers in access to employment, education, services, and are disproportionately affected by poverty. Making sure that everyone can reap the benefits of development, including persons with disabilities, is at the core of the World Bank's mission. On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, the World Bank's Global Advisor on Disability, shares insights about current challenges and opportunities for disability-inclusive development, and explains how the institution has been integrating disability into its operations.

Socializing with friends at work: A look into the black box of non-cognitive skills: Guest post by Sangyoon Park

This is the fifth in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
 
Do people perform better when working with friends or do their friends distract them from doing their job well? Does the effect depend on their personality traits? I investigate these questions in the context of a seafood-processing plant in Vietnam in which several workers perform the identical task – cleaning and filleting fish -- at 4-person tables in a processing room. I collaborated with the management to design and implement a field experiment in which employees were randomly assigned to positions within the room each day. I use random variation in a worker’s proximity to friends to estimate the effect of working with friends on job performance. Before the experiment, I administered a baseline survey to collect information on employees’ friendship ties and personality characteristics. I find that employees are less productive when working with friends but only when friends are close enough to socialize with each other. I also find that personality traits matter and explain a significant portion of individual differences in socializing behaviors at work. Conversely, socializing with friends explains a large portion of why workers with certain personality traits – notably, conscientiousness – are more productive workers.

The resilient brain and its crucial role in human development

Dorota Chapko's picture
Young children in Uzbekistan play with mind-stimulating games. Photo: Matluba Mukhamedova / World Bank


​Did you know that investments in early childhood are crucial for achieving the brain’s full developmental potential and resilience?
 
Jim Heckman, Nobel Laureate in economics, and his collaborators have shown that strong foundational skills built in early childhood are crucial for socio-economic success. These foundational skills lead to a self-reinforcing motivation to learn so that “skills beget skills”. This leads to better-paying jobs, healthier lifestyle choices, greater social participation, and more productive societies. Growing research also reveals that these benefits are linked to the important role that early foundations of cognitive and socio-emotional abilities play on healthy brain development across the human lifespan.

Brain complexity –the diversity and complexity of neural pathways and networks— is moulded during childhood and has a lasting impact on the development of cognitive and socio-emotional human abilities.


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