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Labor and Social Protection

Improving compliance with minimum wage standards

Uma Rani's picture
Minimum wage standards have the force of law. Yet, establishing a legally binding minimum wage does not in itself mean that these are applied in practice. In reality, compliance is always less than perfect in both advanced and developing countries. Understanding which factors determine compliance is important. Our analysis shows that compliance is affected by both the level at which minimum wages are set relative to average wages, as well as by institutional factors.

Remnants of the Soviet past: Restrictions on women's employment in the Commonwealth of Independent States

Alena Sakhonchik's picture
My father is a long-distance trucker based in Belarus. As a young girl, I spent long hours on the road with him. I loved traveling to neighboring and faraway cities and—even though I could barely reach the pedals at the time—dreamed of becoming a truck driver myself one day. Life ended up taking me on another path, but it wasn’t until I was older that I learned that the option of being a truck driver was never open to me to begin with. Why? Because my native country prohibits women from being truck drivers, one of the 182 professions out of bounds for women. And it’s not only Belarus that bars women from certain jobs. A majority of the former Soviet Republics that make up the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS) have lengthy lists of job restrictions for women, a remnant of a 1932 Soviet Union law that carried over into their national legislation after the collapse of the USSR.
 

Higher education for the 21st century in action

Joe Qian's picture
The graduating class of the University of Moratuwa’s Department of Textile and Clothing Technology. Photo Credit: Isuru Udara

Imagine a school that teaches knowledge and provides hands-on training. A place where students express confidence in their skills, and are excited to make a difference in their future jobs. A bastion of confidence and optimism, where 100% of graduating students have jobs lined up before graduation.
 
Sounds too good to be true? I found this haven at the University of Moratuwa’s Department of Textile and Clothing Technology, supported by the Higher Education for the 21st Century Project (HETC), which is designed to modernize education by its increasing its quality and relevance. 24-year-old Malaka Perera, who is graduating next month, told me how the program has helped him build a foundation for his career. “The program taught me how to deal with people, along with communications and problem solving skills that I used during my internship. As a result, finding a job was quite easy.”
 
Sri Lankans have enjoyed the benefits of broad education access for decades, which has allowed the country to build human capital to rise and become a middle income country. However, as a country with rising aspirations in an increasingly globalized world and competitive region, the quality and relevance of its education system is key for the country to maintain its edge and reach new heights.

Against xenophobia and national barriers—in light of the refugee crisis in Europe

Olga Nottmeyer's picture
Whether—and how—to integrate asylum seekers features prominently on the political agenda in so many European countries. The situation in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries facing conflict, civil war, and terrorism make it impossible to ignore the challenges associated with the mass migration of people from these areas. Ignoring the crisis is no solution; neither is xenophobic rhetoric or building more fences and tightening border controls. There is, however, a sensible approach that would certainly help with integrating refugees in the destination countries‘ labor markets.
 

Jobs and economic transformation for IDA countries

Thomas Farole's picture
Policymakers the world over are concerned about jobs. It is often the first thing they talk about when World Bank delegations meet them, and the last message they leave us with on our way back to Washington. So it should come as no surprise that jobs has been chosen as one of the central themes of the IDA-18 replenishment round.
 
 

Moving towards a universal basic income

Andy Stern's picture
In 2010, I seemed to be at the top of my game. But after nearly fifteen years at the helm of SEIU I had lost my ability to predict labor’s future. By 2010, the economy was changing and fragmenting at such warp speed that I couldn’t see where it — or labor — was headed. At the end of that year I embarked on what became a four-year journey to discover the future of jobs, work, and the American Dream. If there are significantly fewer jobs and less work available in the future, how will people make a living, spend their time, and find purpose in their lives? I believe there is a solution – the universal basic income or UBI.

In the face of disaster, resilient communities are just as important as resilient infrastructure

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
What does it take to prevent or mitigate the impact of natural disasters?
 
For many, disaster resilience is all about better infrastructure, efficient early warning systems, and stronger institutions. While those aspects are obviously crucial, we shouldn’t overlook the role of communities themselves in preparing for and responding to disasters. After all, the success of both preparedness and recovery efforts depends largely on local residents' ability to anticipate risk, on their relationship with local and national authorities, and on the way they organize themselves when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of a catastrophe, rebuilding not just the physical environment but also the livelihoods of people is also essential, including through effective social protection systems and safety nets.
 
In this video, Senior Social Development Specialist Margaret Arnold explains how the World Bank is working with client countries and local communities to bring the social dimension of disaster risk management to the forefront.

Micro businesses go global

Brian Bieron's picture
In recent years, a quiet revolution has been brewing because of ecommerce platforms and the digital marketplace. Barriers to accessing larger and more robust markets are receding and small business owners and entrepreneurs from all around the world are beginning to reach consumers in new ways. This further bolsters the argument that the technology-enabled platform commerce model, which significantly reduces the cost of doing business, is a highly inclusive model of trade.


 
 

Does formal work pay?

Michael Weber's picture
The disincentives to accepting a formal job often outweigh the incentives. Our research shows a positive correlation between measures of disincentives for formal work and the incidence of being informal. The formalization tax rate and the marginal effective tax rate are useful measures. The higher these measures are, the more likely workers - especially low-wage workers - will be informal. Policymakers need measures that help them understand the disincentives associated with formal work if they are to design policies that encourage formalization.
 

Stalled productivity, stagnant economy: Chronic stress amid impaired growth

Christopher Colford's picture

Call it “secular stagnation,” or the disappointing “New Mediocre,” or the baffling “New Normal” – or even the back-from-the-brink “contained depression.” Whatever label you put on today’s chronic economic doldrums, it’s clear that a slow-growth stall is afflicting many nation’s economies – and, seven years into a lackluster recovery from the global financial crisis, some fragile economies seem to be lapsing into another slump.

As policymakers struggle to find a plausible prescription for jump-starting growth, a tug-of-war is under way between techno-utopians and techno-dystopians. It’s a struggle between optimists who foresee a world of abundance thanks to innovations like robot-driven industries, and pessimists who anticipate a cash-deprived world where displaced ex-workers have few or no means of earning an income.

To add a bracing dose of academic rigor to the tech-focused tug-of-war, along comes a data-focused realist who adds a welcome if sobering historical perspective to the debate. Robert J. Gordon, a macroeconomist and economic historian at Northwestern University, takes a longue durée perspective of technology’s impact on growth, wealth and incomes.

Gordon’s blunt-spoken viewpoint has caused a sensation since his newest book, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” was launched at this winter’s meetings of the American Economic Association. His analysis injects a new urgency into policymakers’ debates about how (or even whether) today’s growth rate can be strengthened.

When Gordon speaks at the World Bank on Thursday, March 31 – at 11 a.m. in J B1-080, as part of the Macrofiscal Seminar Series – economy-watchers can look forward to hearing some ideas that challenge the orthodoxies of recent macroeconomic thinking. His topic – “Secular Stagnation on the Supply Side: Slow Growth in U. S. Productivity and Potential Output” – seems likely to spark some new thinking among techno-utopians and techo-dystopians alike.

To watch Gordon’s speech live via Webex – at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 31 – click here. To dial in to listen to the audio, dial (in the United States and Canada) 1-650-479-3207, using the passcode 735 669 472. For those telephoning from outside the United States and Canada, the appropriate numbers can be found on this page.


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