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A Better Life for the Developing World's Self-Employed

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Gary Fields is a Professor of Economics at Cornell University.
David Margolis is Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Paris.
Tim Gindling is a Professor of Economics at University of Maryland.

Drying cowpeas, Ghana. Photo: Flickr/53871588@N05 (TREEAID)

With high levels of self-employed in developing countries (see our recent blog “Self-Employment and Subsistence Entrepreneurs?”), policy makers are weighing various types of interventions to reduce poverty and improve productivity. The options for them fall into two key categories: (1) helping raise the returns for the self-employed in the activities and sectors where they are now; and (2) helping move them from self-employment into higher paying wage jobs.

In this blog, we share the perspectives of three experts. David Margolis (Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Paris) explains why policy makers need to put their energy into option #1 in the short term. Tim Gindling, (Professor of Economics, University of Maryland) underscores the need for credit and training, along with social transfer programs for older workers. And Gary Fields (Professor of Economics, Cornell University) advocates creating a good business environment to encourage job creation and tackling binding constraints on poor people like a lack of microcredit at affordable rates. For more see articles by Fields, Margolis, and Gindling.

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