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Alice Evans @_alice_evans
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It's that day of the year again!

The @worldbank World Development Report is out!
"The Changing Nature of Work"

And as some of you know, I always read it on the day of publication and live tweet my review

Background: here's my review of the last 5 WDRs oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/is-there-…
Last year's WDR on education has been heard loud and clear

#WDR2019 starts by acknowledging the importance of learning outcomes

(Well done to the WDR2018 team for all their comms work, within and beyond the bank)
But... the implication seems to be that if you improve the human capital of workers, then pay will also increase
WHAT CAN GOVERNMENTS DO TO IMPROVE JOBS?

*coughs* engage with unions
*coughs* labour standards & inspectors, to prevent abuse
*coughs* minimum wages, to reduce poverty & boost productivity
*coughs* industrial policy

*splutters*
entrepreneurship training? huh?

but i thought we have very limited evidence that a few days/ weeks workshops can enable people to lift themselves up by their bootstraps..?

- see this by @dmckenzie001 & christopher woodruff openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/2…
The WDR2019's discussion of automation is really careful, nuanced, and historically informed.

Nice recognition of how white goods enabled female employment.

They don't include refs, but if you're interested check out:
sciencedirect.com/science/articl…
jeremygreenwood.net/papers/engines…
My question to you:

Are better learning outcomes a sufficient condition for decent jobs in Africa?
(all else constant)

I'm still reading report, looking for evidence to support this emphasis on human capital. Not that I deny the importance of HC. But is it a panacea...?
Earlier this year, the WDR team uploaded draft outlines: questioning minimum wages & trade unions.

Cue backlash: theguardian.com/money/2018/apr…

The WDR2019 doesn't really champion minimum wages or unions. But it's not strongly opposed either. Implies they're OK but idealistic..
MASS ACTIVISM -> REGULATING THE GIG ECONOMY TO PREVENT EXPLOITATION

YES, BABE! 👊#theworldbankgetsit

See also iwgb-universityoflondon.org/2018/06/11/uni… on how @IWGBunion strikes forced an end to zero hours contract at the University of London
One problem is that globalisation has created a global collective action problem.

Governments may try to support local businesses by repressing labour, curbing minimum wages. This is a major concern for Bangladesh right now.

I'm yet to see the WDR2019 address this challenge..
#WDR2019: more regulation merely pushes practices into the informal economy.

It provides a (single) source.

But that source only looks at the effects of regulation for business entry, not other types of regulation.

Bit of a sweeping claim...? dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/hand…
The WDR2019 champions anti-discriminatory legislation. Great.

Tho i'd like to see research & references on how to ensure effectiveness, accountability.

(we all know that policies in LICs/MICs are often isomorphic mimicry, looking good to donors)
There's a section on agriculture

Like the rest, it focuses on improving human capital
I don't deny the importance of this.

But it overlooks:

- slavery in global supply chains, & the failure of CSR
- landlessness & inequality in Latin America
- land grabs
- climate breakdown
I accept a single report can't discuss EVERYTHING.

But this silence basically implies the existing structure is FINE,
They just need to learn to adapt within our system.
the discussion on social protection seems very thoughtful, careful, supports progressive universalism (not targeting - contrary to earlier structural adjustment) and open to UBI, but recognising we have limited evidence on this so far.
The tone of #WDR2019 is different to last year's.

As I wrote in my blog, #WDR2018 engaged with politics, incentives, & embraced learning by doing, experimentation
oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/is-there-…

But this WDR just states evidence; engages far less with politics, governance, & incentives
This year's WDR begins its discussion of labour regulation by tarring it as a colonial relic
This seems to disregard huge mobilisation for labour rights by contemporary workers

- such as by black & indigenous domestic workers in Latin America

And only this year, in 2018, did Brazil ratify the ILO Convention on decent work for domestic workers
equaltimes.org/the-precarious…
See also Blofield's book

After Morales's election, labour inspectors became more empathetic to domestic workers. This led domestic workers to anticipate state support and increasingly report labour rights violations.
#WDR2019 emphasises education & social protection for decent work.

But it's worth learning from countries that have reduced labour income inequality.

Across the road, the IMF details how minimum wage hikes were key in Brazil
imf.org/en/Publication…
What surprises me about the WDR's discussion of regulation is that it seems to ask the question is it good/bad

Whereas I thought most people would be interested in what KINDS of regulation improve jobs?

(eg. min wages, emissions caps, building safety, gender quotas)
But the #WDR2019 is surprisingly apolitical.

It disregards how the ruling elite may purposefully restrict regulation so as to advance their economic interests.

E.g. Bangladeshi manufacturer-politicians resisting building safety, & the Accord.

Hence Rana Plaza.
Incidentally, despite a strong emphasis on #learning, the references are predominantly from Economics

So I'll share my podcast with Michael Woolcock (at the Bank) on the benefits of #mixedmethods
soundcloud.com/user-845572280…
For me, it's surprising that one could write a report on jobs without engaging with politics. AT ALL.

So here are some of my favourite books on the politics of jobs
Whereas I know last year, the #WDR2018 team on education made a real effort to engage with non-econ education experts.

Here's a random reference from last year:
Another political issue I consider significant is the global rise of the far right.

The rise of the Hindu far right in India, & white nationalists in the US

This jeopardises political support for 'progressive universalism'/ UBI
New paper out this year:

When White Americans think that minorities are thriving (politically/ economically/ numerically), they become more opposed to welfare benefiting minorities

academic.oup.com/sf/advance-art…

The #WDR2019's idea of progressive universalism becomes tricky..
The WDR2012 on gender was brilliant on work, emphasising:

- social norms
- gender quotas
- investment in infrastructure & care, to reduce the volume of care work

(my review here:
ingenere.it/sites/default/…)

So it's surprising that the current WDR merely says deregulate....
So that's my (brief!) take on the #WDR2019.

If anyone disagrees, wants to clarify, or can provide evidence for the claim that improved human capital is the primary binding constraint to decent work in Sub-Saharan Africa and more broadly

Please jump in! Critique welcome
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