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East Asia and Pacific countries can do better in labor regulation and social protection

Truman Packard's picture

Those unfamiliar with the fast growing emerging economies of East Asia are likely to think that governments in these countries let market forces and capitalism roam free, red in tooth and claw. That was certainly my impression before coming to work in the region, and generally that held at the outset of our work by the group of us that wrote a new World Bank report “East Asia Pacific At Work: Employment, Enterprise and Wellbeing” .

The report shows just how wrong we were. We could be forgiven this impression—many of us had come from assignments in Latin America and the Caribbean or in Europe and Central Asia, where the distortions and rigidities from labor regulation and poorly designed social protection are rife, and where policy makers cast envious looks at the stellar and sustained employment outcomes in East Asia.

Well, it turns out that although they came relatively late to labor regulation and social protection, many governments in the region have entered this arena with gusto. We were surprised to find that, going just by what is written in their labor codes, the average level of employment protection in East Asia is actually higher than the OECD average.

Tahun-tahun yang terbuang: Mengapa anak-anak Indonesia belajar lebih sedikit?

Samer Al-Samarrai's picture
Also available in: English

Sekarang, saat semua sudah tenang setelah hasil  hasil PISA keluar, mari kita coba pikirkan faktor-faktor penyebab di balik performa buruk Indonesia.  Bagi yang belum tahu, Indonesia berada di posisi lebih rendah dibanding semua negara yang berpartisipasi, kecuali Peru dalam hal matematika dan sains, serta negara kelima dari bawah dalam hal membaca. Hal yang lebih mengkhawatirkan mungkin adalah rendahnya tingkat pembelajaran yang dilaporkan untuk anak-anak Indonesia usia 15 tahun.  Dalam hal matematika, tiga perempat dari siswa berada dalam atau di bawah acuan terendah – tingkat yang diasosiasikan dengan keterbatasan kemampuan serta terbatasnya kecakapan berpikir lebih tinggi. 

Wasted years: Why do Indonesian children end up learning less?

Samer Al-Samarrai's picture
Also available in: Bahasa Indonesia

Now that the dust has settled around the PISA results we have been thinking about the reasons behind Indonesia's poor showing. For those of you who haven't seen them, Indonesia ranked lower than all participating countries except Peru in mathematics and science, and was fifth from last on reading. Perhaps more worrying were the low absolute levels of learning reported for 15-year-olds. In mathematics, three-quarters of students were rated at or below the lowest benchmark – a level associated with only rudimentary levels of proficiency and a lack of higher order thinking skills.

ความปลอดภัยบนท้องถนน…สร้างได้ ไม่ใช่เรื่องบังเอิญ

Chanin Manopiniwes's picture
Also available in: English

Photo credit: Dennis Thern
ภาพถ่ายโดย © Dennis Thern

ในประเทศไทยทุกๆ หนึ่งชั่วโมง อุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนนคร่า 1 ชีวิต จากประชากรทั้งประเทศ 70 ล้านคน อัตราความสูญเสียนี้สามารถบ่งชี้ถึงความปลอดภัยบนท้องถนนได้อย่างไร เมื่อเปรียบเทียบกับประเทศอื่นๆ?

ข้อมูลจากหน่วยเฝ้าระวังและสะท้อนสถานการณ์ความปลอดภัยทางถนนรายงานว่า อัตราการบาดเจ็บและการเสียชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนนลดลงเหลือแค่ 2 ใน 3 ภายในเวลา 10 ปี (เมื่อเทียบกับตัวเลขในช่วง 10 ปีที่ผ่านมา) อย่างไรก็ตาม ความสูญเสียจากอุบัติเหตุกลับเพิ่มความรุนแรงขึ้น โอกาสที่ผู้บาดเจ็บมีอาการสาหัส หรือทุพลภาพเพิ่มสูงเป็นประวัติการณ์

เมื่อเทียบกับประเทศอื่นแล้ว ประเทศไทยมีอัตราการเสียชีวิตบนท้องถนนเป็นอันดับ 3 ของโลก! รายงาน Global Status Report on Road Safety โดยองค์การอนามัยโลก พบว่าประเทศไทยมีสถิติการเสียชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุบนท้องถนนสูงถึง 38 ราย ต่อประชากร 100,000 รายต่อปี รองจากประเทศเอริเทรีย (48 ราย) และประเทศลิเบีย (41 ราย)

Will China’s economic slowdown affect its reforms?

Bingjie Hu's picture
Also available in: 中文

The latest macroeconomic data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on April 18 suggest that China’s economic growth has moderated in the first quarter of 2014. GDP growth has decelerated from 7.7 percent (year-over-year) in the last quarter of 2013 to 7.4 percent (year-over-year) in the first quarter of 2014.

On a sequential basis, the quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted growth slowed from 1.7 percent in Q4 last year to 1.4 percent in Q1 2014.

The deceleration in the first quarter of this year is in line with World Bank expectations (see our latest East Asia Economic Update) (Figure1).

Figure 1: Official growth data on the demand side reflect subdued export growth and a moderation in investment growth. Consumption led growth in the first quarter of 2014, contributing 5.7 percentage points to growth, followed by investment, contributing 3.1 percentage points. Net exports dragged down growth by 1.4 percentage points.

Many economists speculate that the weakening trend in growth may put more pressure on the government to implement more and stronger growth supportive fiscal and monetary policies, following the stimulus measures unveiled recently that include accelerated expenditures on railway construction and social housing, as well as tax breaks for small businesses.


Bingjie Hu's picture
Also available in: English


Thailand: Road safety will never happen by accident

Chanin Manopiniwes's picture
Also available in: ภาษาไทย

Photo credit: Dennis Thern
Photo © Dennis Thern

In Thailand, road accidents cause about one death every hour—but for a country of almost 70 million people, how does it fare compared to other countries?

Well, before we get to answering that; the good news for the country is that, according to Thailand Road Safety Observatory, overall road accidents, fatalities and injuries all fell roughly by a third over the past decade. But as for the bad news, the probability of crash victims becoming fatally wounded or permanently disabled is higher than ever.

However, the real bad news—despite the authorities’ efforts to prevent accidents—is that, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, Thailand continues to have one of the highest rates in road fatalities. In fact, with 38 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants per year, it ranks third in the world, just behind the African countries of Eritrea and Libya, at 48.4 and 40.5 respectively.


Garo Batmanian's picture
Also available in: English



From farm to chopsticks: Improving food safety in China

Garo Batmanian's picture
Also available in: 中文
A challenge for Chinese businesses is to re-capture the vast domestic market owing to the recent food scares that have seriously undermined the domestic brands.

After several high-profile food safety incidents, according to one recent survey, around 64% of Chinese consider food safety as the number one priority that affects their daily lives and requires immediate action by the government.

The Chinese government is taking these concerns very seriously and has launched important reforms in its system of food control. It promulgated a new Food Safety Law in 2009, and created a new food safety authority in 2013 to deal with these issues. These reforms are now rolling out to provincial and local levels. These reforms will eventually affect more than one million state officials, restructure more than a dozen government ministries, and revise more than 5,000 regulations. The reforms will result in a complete overhaul of the food control system and introduction of new global best practice policies for food safety.


Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: English

Photo courtesy of Li Wenyong