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Labor and Social Protection

Should cash transfers be systematically paid to mothers?

Damien de Walque's picture

When I was a high school student in Belgium, our history textbook included a reproduction of a painting entitled “The Drunkard” by Eugène Laermans. The painting was included in the section describing the history of the labor movement in the country and its achievements in passing legislation aimed at improving the situation of the working class. In particular, the painting was meant to illustrate why the Belgian law introducing child benefits – monthly transfers to all families raising children until age 18 (or until age 25 as long as they are still students) - stipulates that these benefits are paid to the mother. The law still holds today, even if it allows for exceptions when the mother is not present in the household.

Arab reality show tests humanity and empathy

Bassam Sebti's picture


It’s Ramadan and the Arabic TV channels are festooned with shows that vary from recurring popular soap operas, cooking and competition shows — but one has become the talk of the town.

Al Sadma, or The Shock, the Arabic version of the popular American show What Would You Do, is a reality TV prank show. But it’s not like many other tasteless reality shows that invoke fright and even terror, it is a show that invokes morality and examines humanity.

Can social protection play a role in reducing childhood violence?

Matthew H. Morton's picture
Photo: Scott Wallace / World Bank

As many as one billion children under the age of 18 experience some form of violence every year. This exposure is not only a violation of child rights; it can also hamper children’s cognitive development, mental health, educational achievement, and long-term labor market prospects.

Meanwhile, an estimated 1.9 billion people in 136 countries benefit from some type of social safety net, such as cash transfers and public works that target the poor and vulnerable—presenting a vast policy instrument with potential to help prevent childhood violence.

A blueprint for better jobs in Kenya

Maria Laura Sanchez Puerta's picture
We recently completed a Jobs Diagnostic in Kenya to look at ways that the country can create better jobs, especially for young Kenyans. Skills development is fundamental to the transition to better jobs as we found that firm creation is low and that more productive firms do not create more jobs. This lack of growth of the more productive firms is the real challenge. Better, more productive, transformational jobs will be key helping the country meets its goals of Vision 2030.
 

Jobs challenges and opportunities in Sierra Leone - notes from the field

Ian Walker's picture
A key theme in this year’s IDA replenishment is the need to improve jobs through accelerated economic transformation. Generating more jobs and increasing productivity by creating stronger market linkages is a challenge everywhere in the developing world. But it is both particularly important and difficult in countries facing fragility. Sierra Leone had hardly emerged from the effects of a long civil war when the Ebola crisis struck. Around the same time, the commodity super cycle began winding down in 2014, negatively affecting revenues. The Jobs Group is working with the Government in Sierra Leone to meet this challenge. A team recently visited Sierra Leone to see how World Bank Group operations are helping and to find out what more can be done to improve the outlook for jobs in the country.
 

Looking at urbanization through a jobs lens

Javier Sanchez-Reaza's picture
There is an undeniable link between urbanization and job creation – but what exactly is the relationship, and how could the potential of unprecedented urbanization growth most benefit the world’s urban poor looking for jobs? Urbanization can lead to more, better and inclusive jobs in cities around the world. But recent urbanization trends, particularly in Africa, show that in many cases urbanization is taking place without job creation. Focusing on issues such as reducing spatial mismatches may provide policy options to affect positive labor market outcomes. This is the first in a series of upcoming blogs looking at the connections, the dynamics and the interactions between urbanization and jobs.
 

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.

Harnessing Stitches for Riches in South Asia

Gladys Lopez-Acevedo's picture
Stitches to Riches? The Potential of Apparel Manufacturing in South Asia

In the coming years and decades, China is expected to slowly relinquish its lead position in the global apparel market, opening the door to other competitors. This is a huge opportunity for South Asia to create at least 1.5 million jobs that are “good for development” – of which half a million would be for women – according to a new World Bank report Stitches to Riches?  But those numbers could be much higher if the region moves quickly to tackle existing impediments and foster growth in apparel, which will also yield dividends for other light manufacturers (like footwear and toys).
 
How South Asia fits in the global apparel market
Currently, China holds by far the largest share of global apparel trade – at 41 percent, up from 25 percent in 2000, with about 10 million workers. But as China continues to develop, it is likely to move up the global value chain into higher-value goods (like electronics, and out of apparel) or switch production among sectors in response to rising wages. A 2013 survey of leading global buyers in the United States and European Union (EU) found that 72 percent of respondents planned to decrease their share of sourcing from China over the next five years (2012-2016).
 
Already, the top four apparel producers in South Asia – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – have made big investments in world apparel trade, now accounting for 12 percent of global apparel exports (see figure). In terms of apparel export value, Bangladesh leads the pack (at $22.8 billion), followed by India ($12.5 billion), Sri Lanka ($4.4 billion), and Pakistan ($4.2 billion).
 
China dominates global apparel trade
(Country share of global apparel exports)


Source: Stitches to Riches?
 
Why apparel jobs are “good for development”
When we think of jobs that are “good for development,” the main yardstick is whether they will help translate growth into long-lasting poverty reduction and broad-based economic opportunities. Apparel fits the bill for numerous reasons. 

In West Africa, education = jobs and jobs = development

Adaiah Lilenstein's picture
Job creation is a crucial aspect of development. And broad-based, high-quality education is crucial for inclusive development. Worryingly low levels of education quality and quantity show that there is a crisis of education in some West African countries. If inclusive growth is to pull people into the labor market and out of poverty, this must be addressed. Getting education right is a crucial first step on the road to creating better employment and reducing poverty. It must be considered a priority by national governments and donors alike.
 

Informality as a channel to cope with rigid labor markets

Ximena Del Carpio's picture
Rigid labor markets prevent formalization, especially when labor costs are high relative to the productivity of the workforce. Evidence from around the world, from developed and developing countries, shows that employers have a number of ways they adjust to the costs imposed by onerous labor policies. One of the main lessons that policy makers should learn, is that adopting measures that reduce rigidity and costs can help mitigate the negative impacts on unemployment and informality.
 

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