Almost 20 years ago, the World Bank released a groundbreaking report – The East Asian Miracle – that called worldwide attention to the economic success of eight economies in the region, leading to a discussion on the extent to which policies followed by them could be replicated.
Labor and Social Protection
One of the most distressing aspects of the frail economic recovery from the global crisis has been lagging job creation. In developed and developing countries alike, millions of people remain unemployed (some 200 million by ILO estimates), and many who still have jobs live in fear of losing them or seeing their incomes and benefits stagnate. Fortunately, the worst may be over in several parts of the world.
In a world in economic turmoil, calls for greater fiscal austerity, leaner social entitlements, and smaller government expenditures are seemingly ubiquitous. From the United States to the Euro Zone, the size and role of government are being questioned. Yet, at the same time, the recent financial crisis has highlighted the importance of the state as a regulator of the financial system.
With a few exceptions, industrialized nations are still struggling with unemployment, unable to recover completely from the 2008 economic crisis. In the U.S. things seem to be improving as the unemployment rate fell in January to 8.3 percent, its lowest level since early 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Investing more on roads, bridges and schools is an essential part of President Obama's American Jobs Act. If this is important in the current U.S. context, the role of both infrastructure and education in job creation is even more fundamental in developing countries, where there's much more to be done than in the U.S. and other advanced economies.
Market volatility, fears of a double-dip, lack of investor confidence and social demonstrations from Wall Street to Main Streets around the world are just some of the headlines we face today.
The last 20 years have seen a growing engagement between development and human rights practitioners. But are we still mainly talking past each other? Or has there been valuable mutual learning with development results on the ground?
Let’s start by clarifying what I mean when I refer here to human rights. Adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, economic and social abuses, or, alternatively, which serve to secure and preserve extremely important goods, protections and freedoms in these various areas, for all people everywhere. These rights are now embodied in the 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and nine core international covenants and treaties.
Since 1947 much has happened. And in the last two decades, there has been a growing convergence between human rights and development. Paralleling the broad reach of human rights concerns, the scope of development has also extended enormously. From mainly being concerned with economic growth, the term has broadened to include poverty reduction, inequality, human and social development, the environment, governance and institutions, just to name some. From GDP figures, we now also think about households and the specific needs of specific groups.
This is the third in a series of blogs where we take a look at the issues and the countries that will be at the forefront of the development agenda, not now, not next year, but over the next 2 to 5 years—thus, “after tomorrow”1.
There is now a budding consensus on what reduces poverty: it is
The World Bank estimates that there are more than 1.4 billion people in the world who live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. It will be interesting to see what happens to children born in poverty: to follow them from womb to tomb, the entire life cycle. We now have several countries with detailed information in the form of living standard measurement and other surveys. There is a lot of country-by-country variation but the trends are unmistakable.
The current recovery in advanced economies is now exhibiting several signs of fragility. Their medium term growth prospects also look difficult. In this environment two questions arise: Will developing economies experience a renewed downward “recoupling” as a result of a low-growth scenario in advanced economies?