Forget the Homo Sapiens and the Homo Economicus. The guy who traces our destiny is the Homo Ludens, the man who plays. Johan Huizinga, a professor of history and linguistics, in his 1938 book, says that art and culture originate from our propensity to dance and have fun. But to enjoy life, play and build a peaceful world, you need a productive job that removes you from the daily struggle of making ends meet.
South Asia is unique in the multiplicity of its challenges and opportunities to generate productive employment. Start counting: many workers are stuck in low productivity agriculture and informal employment; there is low female labor force participation; the skill base is low; the countries in the region struggle with pervasive vulnerability and uncertainty, large economic and social disparities, and persistent conflict and violence.
Yet, there is no work that looks at all these factors in an integrated manner for the region. This is the reason why the World Bank’s first South Asia Region flagship report will focus on More and Better Jobs. This blog will keep readers informed on the progress of the report during next year.
Reema Nayar and Pablo Gottret (Lead Economists at the World Bank) say that, “An effective job-creation strategy has to go beyond interventions in the labor market. The macroeconomic environments, governance, security, investment climate, education, training and social protection systems all have a role."
The report will look closely at key constraints on the full and productive use of South Asia’s labor resources, identifying priority policy options to create better job opportunities for the current and future workforce.
We have three questions in mind:
• What explains South Asia’s much slower transition of labor out of agriculture and rural areas relative to countries at similar levels of development?
• What economic factors keep firms small and informal and trap the majority of workers in low-productivity jobs?
• How do the particular issues of inequality, low spatial mobility and conflict make the challenge of creating more and better jobs more daunting in South Asia?
Do let us know about your thoughts on these questions.