As we explained in previous posts, digital technologies present both threats and opportunities for the employment agenda in developing countries. Yet many countries lack the means to take full advantage of these opportunities, because of limited access to technology, a lack of skills, and the absence of a broad enabling environment, the so-called “analog” complements.
This week thousands of policy-makers, experts, NGOs and urban-minded citizens of all stripes are convening in Quito, Ecuador to discuss the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III – a significant global convening that occurs every 20 years. And, in a couple weeks, amid the costumes and candy, ghosts and goblins of Halloween, the world will mark UN World Cities Day on October 31st. For good reason, youth are part of the conversation. In today’s global landscape, two demographic patterns should stand out: rapid urbanization and large youth populations. These patterns are especially robust across developing nations. Already the worlds’ cities host half of its citizens, and Asia and Africa are expected to account for 90% of urban growth. While growing, cities have also become younger – many of the world’s nearly four billion people under the age of 30 live in urban areas, and according to UN-HABITAT, it is estimated that 60% of urban populations will be under the age of 18 by 2030.
Looking behind the official Chinese unemployment statistics, over the last 30 years there have been large fluctuations in the number of people without work. This is despite the uniformity of the official statistics. By looking at household survey data and other sources, Shuaizhang Feng proposes a more realistic estimate. Moreover, he examines how different groups within China are suffering disproportionately from unemployment, which suggests courses of action for the country’s policy makers.
Many African countries are striving to move up the global value chain in the footsteps of countries like China and (more recently) Bangladesh. We asked Paul Lister – Director of Legal Services and Company Secretary, Associated British Foods (ABF) – how ABF and its subsidiaries determine where it will source goods. He says that in the end, efficiency is key.
For China, the minimum wage is a useful tool to reduce wage and income inequality, and in recent years, the minimum wage has risen rapidly in many provinces. We recently asked Shi Li (Professor of Economics, School of Economics and Business, Beijing Normal University) about the economic impact of the higher minimum wages. He cautions that enforcement was lax until 2009 and the results of the initial studies are inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.
Could the source of the wealth of nations be learning to learn? A recent paper by Luke Jordan, who until late 2013 was a Private Sector Development Specialist for the World Bank, along with Sébastien Turban of Caltech and Laurence Wilse-Samon of Columbia University, contends that the answer is yes.
For youth entrepreneurs, the challenges are especially great because of their lack of business experience. We spoke with Jianxiong Peng, a youth entrepreneur from Beijing and the cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of KOE Technology Investment Co, Ltd. Peng's company aims to transfer top environmental technologies from developed countries – such as Japan – which can solve Chinese environmental problems and then incubate companies for each transferred technology. The company now has 45 employees, 85% of which are younger than the age of 33.