Since the concept of the “informal sector” was coined half a century ago, countries all over the world have promoted the formalization of small- and medium-size enterprises. The perceived benefits of formalization include better access to credit, justice, large formal clients, and, for the government, higher tax revenues. But according to recent literature, most formalization efforts resulted in modest and short term increases in formality rates.
Young people struggle to find jobs. Landing that first job is particularly challenging even for youth with quality education. In 2016, 100 young women under 25 in the Gjakova and Lipjan municipalities in Kosovo were seeking their first opportunity after completing university-level education. They enrolled in the World Bank’s Women in Online Work (WoW) pilot, a training program that aims to equip beneficiaries with the skills they need to find work in the online freelancing market. Within three months of graduation, WoW’s online workers were earning twice the average national hourly wage in Kosovo. Some graduates even went on start their own ventures and hire other young women to work with them.
The discussion around digitization is usually focused on how automation will affect jobs, disregarding how the changing world of work is also transforming the labor markets for the better. Although automation will change many jobs —up to 46% of jobs in developed countries according to a recent OECD report are highly automatable or likely to experience significant changes due to automation— it also holds several opportunities for employment intermediation. Job seekers can take new digital avenues to labor market inclusion, while employment services can also support workers with new ways of finding jobs. Three international experiences show how some countries are utilizing these opportunities.
Mozambique has achieved substantial poverty reduction during the last two decades, but the existing development model is running out of steam. When the civil war ended in the early 1990s, Mozambique was one of the poorest countries in the world. Since then, it has had relatively fast growth and the poverty headcount rate has declined steadily. However, the Jobs Diagnostic produced as part of the Let’s Work Mozambique Country Pilot shows that over the last 20 years, the pattern of growth has become progressively less inclusive. In this blog, we outline four possible strategies that could help accelerate the shift into higher value-added activities and better livelihoods for the mass of low-paid workers in Mozambique.
According to The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017, Africa is forecasted to produce just 100 million new jobs by 2035, while the working age population is projected to grow by more than 450 million. The fastest population growth will occur in the 15 to 35-year-old demographic. This growing working-age population presents both an opportunity and a potential risk to Africa’s future prosperity. To ensure these new workers engage in productive livelihoods and prevent significant increases in extreme poverty and civil unrest, governments will need to enable job creation, including scaling cost-effective livelihood development programs targeting the extreme poor. Described below is a cost-effective approach which is yielding promising results and scaling through results-based financing.
Active labor market programs (ALMPs) like job matching, training, wage subsidies, start-up support, and public works for the unemployed have a less than stellar reputation. “Ineffective,” “a ”charade,” and “a waste of money” are common labels one hears when discussing ALMPs; and even when positive effects of ALMPs are acknowledged, the sizes of these effects are portrayed as too small to bother. At the same time, these programs are widely used, not only in high-income countries, but also in many developing countries—often with the hope that they solve many labor market problems, in particular, unemployment. Are policymakers wrong to pursue these programs?
The view that a productive agriculture is critical for employment creation and poverty reduction is now widely shared within the development community. Yet, this has not always been the case. In the run up to the 2008 world food price crisis, many development practitioners, government officials and economists doubted whether agriculture could still play this role, especially in Africa. Agro-pessimism had set in during the 1990s and 2000s, with a decline in policy attention and agricultural investment. The food price spikes of 2008 brought a realization that more needed to be done to strengthen agriculture in developing countries.
One out of ten people in the world —around 766 million people— still lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013. Most of them, 80 percent, live in rural areas and have very low productivity jobs. Improving jobs and earnings opportunities for these poor and vulnerable workers is at the core of the World Bank Group agenda and it requires holistic economic inclusion initiatives to move them into sustainable livelihoods.
Non-farm household enterprises provide an important opportunity for employment in Tanzania. Agriculture is still the primary economic activity of the country, but the economy is shifting away from it and the number of people employed in this sector has been declining since 2006. At the same time, nearly 850,000 individuals a year enter the labor market seeking gainful employment and non-farm household enterprises are growing rapidly. Across the country, 65.9% of households reported household enterprises as a primary or secondary employment.
Due to the growing importance of non-farm household enterprises, our team conducted a study to understand why household enterprises are not growing and what their major constraints are to productivity gains.
Starting this month, an estimated 9 million women will be able to get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia after the historic announcement in September last year lifting the ban on women from driving. While international attention has often focused on the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia, it has often missed the fact that women in several other countries are legally debarred from certain driving jobs. The World Bank’s recently released Women, Business and the Law 2018 report finds that 19 countries around the world legally restrict women from working in the transport sector in the same way as men.