South Asia, which is home to more than 40 percent of the world s absolute poor, will contribute nearly 40 percent of the growth in the world s working age population over the next several decades. More and Better Jobs in South Asia attempts to answer three questions: Has South Asia been creating an increasing number of jobs and better jobs? What has determined the quality of job creation and what is the employment challenge going forward? What demand- and supply-side bottlenecks need to be eased to meet South Asia s employment challenge in the face of intensifying demographic pressure?
The region has created just under 800,000 jobs per month during the past two decades, a rate that broadly tracks growth in its working age population. The quality of jobs- measured in terms of higher wages for wage workers and lower poverty for the self-employed-has been improving, thanks to strong economic growth in some countries and massive out-migration and workers remittances elsewhere. But there is absolutely no room for complacency. South Asia will add between 1 million and 1.2 million new entrants to the labor force every month for the next two decades. Absorbing them into the labor force at rising levels of labor productivity is the crux of the employment challenge.
Meeting the employment challenges calls for a reform agenda that cuts across sectors. It includes enhancing access to reliable electricity supply for firms in urban and rural settings, reducing corruption in dealings between firms and the state, facilitating access to land, strengthening transport links between town and country, focusing on better nutrition in early childhood, improving the quality of education to equip workers with relevant skills for the world of work, and protecting workers in both informal and formal sectors rather than protecting jobs for the few in the formal sector of the economy.
Recognizing that South Asia is the most conflict-affected of the major regions in the world, the book also includes a chapter on how the challenges of job creation are magnified in such environments as well as some priorities going forward for labor market policies and programs.
More and Better Jobs will be of interest to policy makers and their advisers, not only in South Asia but also in other parts of the world where creating better jobs is a significant challenge, as well as to the international development community and students of economics.