Published on Let's Talk Development

The World Development Report 2019, The Changing Nature of Work, is finally out – officially

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For the many of you who have accompanied us on this voyage, that its publication in its final version comes as no surprise will, I hope, not diminish the sense of achievement that I share with everyone involved in its production. Even as we launch the report, we can take pride in how well-read it already is.

For the first time the World Bank published the report in draft form while it was being written. For seven months it has benefited from thousands of comments and suggestions from a wide range of readers, encompassing government, academia, civil society and activists. Each and every comment has contributed to the final version. Along the way the report has been downloaded 370,000
times – a record for a World Bank report.

Let me walk you through the report’s chapters:

Chapter 1 considers this question and presents a new framework for thinking about the changing nature of work. The nature of work is changing…but how?

Chapter 2 takes a look at how business is being shaped by technology and the rise of the superstar firm. How are increased automation and digitization impacting business? 

Chapter 3 is home to the Human Capital Index – you can read all about the reasons why the Bank has launched the index and also check how your country ranks by delving into Chapter Two. Changes in the relative demand for skills in labor markets demands greater investments in human capital. Learn about the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index in Chapter 3

Chapter 4 examines the acquisition of human capital from birth and how in the future we will have to prepare for multiple careers by adopting lifelong learning strategies. Technological progress might bring opportunity, but it can be disruptive in the process. How can we best prepare people who are currently in work? Chapter 4 considers this question.

Chapter 5 looks at the huge task of moving people around the world from informal work – where they receive no social protection – and how this particularly affects women and rural workers. People also learn valuable skills at work, but how does learning differ between different types of workers? Chapter 5 presents new analysis.

Chapter 6 digs into the three key elements of making social protection available and sustainable now and in the future. Increasingly fluid labor markets and persistent informality demand a rethink of social protection systems. Chapter 6 looks at some of the options

And Chapter 7 discusses a ‘new deal’ social contract and how a restructured taxation system can help to pay for it. How can the changing nature of work be harnessed to improve social inclusion and at what cost? This topic is explored in Chapter 7

The report challenges governments to take better care of their citizens, calling for a universal guaranteed minimum level of social protection. As more investments are made in social protection, a balanced approach to labor market regulations could help movement between jobs.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, publication is not the end, nor the beginning of the end of the report’s purpose, but it might be the end of the beginning. I hope that the ideas it contains will continue to cultivate discussion among policy makers and others, leading to action. The new Human Capital Index is one of the tools that will, we believe, encourage governments to make the right decisions.



Simeon Djankov

Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

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