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Labor and Social Protection

Growth in Central Asia hinges on creating more jobs with higher wages

Lilia Burunciuc's picture
Also available in: Русский


Jobs and wage growth have been the most important driver of poverty reduction globally, and Central Asia. In Tajikistan, for example, it has cut poverty by about two-thirds since 2003. In Kazakhstan, it accounted for more than three-quarters of income growth over the past decade — even among the poorest 20 percent. The other Central Asian nations have also achieved significant economic growth and poverty reduction in the past two decades due to income growth.

But poverty-reduction rates have slowed. In Kyrgyzstan, they began slowing during the global recession of 2008, as income growth faltered. Poverty reduction in Tajikistan leveled off in 2015, when wage growth slackened and remittances from Tajiks working overseas fell.

In Uzbekistan, more than 90 percent of the poorest households have identified lack of jobs as their most urgent priority. For these families, the prospect of increasing their income is slim, while the likelihood of transmitting poverty to their children is high.

So what should countries in Central Asian do to build on their past achievements and prepare their citizens for the jobs of the future?

Has Belarus really succeeded in pursuing gender equality?

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Русский
I sometimes wonder — do women in Belarus live a good life? Well, they are better educated than men, live about a decade longer than men, and enjoy generous social guarantees (3 years of child care leave, for example). And they have a high-level of labor force participation and representation in politics.

Even by international standards, Belarusian women seem to live well. In the latest Global Gender Gap Index, Belarus was ranked 26th out of 144 countries — higher than Australia or the Netherlands. The statistics certainly indicate a high-level of gender equality in Belarus.

But what do the numbers really mean in reality?

As Kazakhstan’s economy develops, ensuring no family is left behind

Ato Brown's picture
Also available in: Русский
During a recent trip to a popular tourist enclave in Kazakhstan called Borovoye, I decided to make a stopover in the village of Makinsk, about 150 km north of the capital city Astana. I was keen to learn more about the communities and people living outside the capital and other major cities. Living in a modern, dynamic city like Astana, one does not get a true sense of people’s lives in rural Kazakhstan.
 
In Makinsk, I met with Kabenke Dosenkhan and Onerkhan Nurbek, the proud parents of eight children; their youngest was born in February this year. They told me about the village and their daily lives, and they introduced their wonderful children. I also heard about how they had struggled in the recent past to make ends meet, surviving on the equivalent of US$50 per month in child benefits, supplemented occasionally with pay for manual labor by the head of the household, Onerkhan.

Women count: Turning demographic challenge into opportunity in Armenia

Laura Bailey's picture
Also available in: Հայերեն


“You can’t hold back time,” goes the saying (and the song). Indeed, the Laws of Nature dictate that people and societies get older and older, whether we like it or not.

But let me pose a question: are aging societies doomed to experience stagnation or a decline in living standards? Some might believe so, but I would argue that it is possible to address the realities of changing demographics that come from aging – through bold adaptive action!

Improving fairness, opportunity and empowerment: A view from the South Caucasus

Genevieve Boyreau's picture
Also available in: Русский
I was quite intrigued by the findings of the latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, with its special focus on "Polarization and Populism". As Program Leader for the South Caucasus region, covering Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, I was particularly interested in the fact that these three countries report the highest levels of life and job dissatisfaction, despite declining disparities and overall income improvement in the region (in Georgia, for instance). Indeed, using the World Bank’s "twin goal” metrics, the South Caucasus region has been performing reasonably well.

People’s living standards – do numbers tell the whole story?

Giorgia DeMarchi's picture
Also available in: Русский
Numbers don’t lie. That’s why, in our day-to-day lives, we rely heavily on numbers from household surveys, from national accounts, and from other traditional sources to describe the world around us: to calculate, to compare, to measure, to understand economic and social trends in the countries where we work.

But do we perhaps rely too much on numbers to gain an understanding of people’s lives and the societies in which they live? Do numbers really tell us the whole story, or give us the full picture?


 

Can Moldova have a viable pension system … if retirement age is increased?

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
Also available in: Русский | Română
Pensioner in Moldova

In my first blog on Moldova’s pension system, I discussed challenges and reform options. My second one focused on the incentives to contribute into that pension system. Now, in this third blog, I am going to discuss Moldova’s retirement age: why it is important to raise it ... and why it is equally challenging to do so.
 
To better understand the issues faced by public pension systems today, it is important to remember that they are generally pay-as-you-go schemes. This means that those who work today pay the pensions of those who are retired.
 
This particular system was first introduced in Germany back in the 19th century, when the workforce was growing – a very different situation from what we have today. Rapidly ageing societies, longer life expectancy at retirement, lower fertility and migration are all adding pressures on pension systems in many European countries, including Moldova.

Cum pot fi moldovenii încurajați să contribuie la pensiile lor?

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
Also available in: English | Русский
Ultima mea postare a discutat provocările și refomele sistemului de pensii din Moldova, însă acum aș dori să mă axez pe stimulentele pentru contribuții în cadrul unui sistem de pensii. Această problemă este deosebit de importantă pentru o țară ca Moldova, unde pensiile pentru limita de vârstă sunt direct legate de stagiul de cotizare și nivelul veniturilor individuale.

Astfel de sisteme de pensii preconizează, de regulă, un anumit grad de redistribuire din considerente de echitate și atenuare a sărăciei. Totuși, redistribuirea excesivă reduce stimulentele pentru contirbuții în cadrul unui sistem de pensii.

O structură de stimulente eficace este esențială pentru a încuraja lucrătorii să contribuie mai mult în schimbul unei pensii suficiente la atingerea vârstei de pensionare. De ce? Pentru că, dacă nu există stimulente adecvate, oamenii vor evita să contribuie în cadrul unui sistem care nu oferă mai mult decât pensia minimă – indiferent de nivelul contribuției.

Astfel, în ceea ce privește structura stimulentelor, care sunt provocările specifice întâmpinate de Moldova?

How to encourage Moldovans to contribute to their pensions?

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
Also available in: Русский | Română
My last post discussed the challenges and reforms of Moldova’s pension system, but I would like to focus now on the incentives for contributing into a pension system. This issue is especially important for a country like Moldova, where old-age pensions are directly related to the number of contribution years and the level of individual earnings.

Such pension schemes typically envisage some level of redistribution to address poverty and equity concerns. However, excessive redistribution decreases the incentive to contribute to the pension system.

An effectively functioning incentives structure is critical to encouraging workers to contribute more in return for an adequate pension at retirement. Why? Because if the right incentives are not in place, people will avoid contributing into a system that doesn’t offer more than the minimum pension – regardless of the level of contribution.

So, in terms of incentives structure, what particular challenges does Moldova face?

‘Tis the season to be anti-poverty

Elisabetta Capannelli's picture
Also available in: Română
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.

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