A new social contract for a job-rich recovery

By Paola Simonetti, Deputy Director, Economic and Social Policy Department, ITUC

“People are no longer coming to the kiosk to buy tea since the pandemic outbreak started. I am the breadwinner of a family of nine. On many days I don’t earn a single shilling and return home empty handed”. This is the story of Jamila, a tea kiosk holder in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her story is also the story of around 2 billion informal workers worldwide who have been left to cope with the crisis on their own.  

The pre-existing labour market deficiencies have made those who were already vulnerable – low-skilled workers, migrant workers, informal workers, women, and young people – even more exposed to the impact of the crisis. In fact, the world entered the pandemic with a pre-existing “sustainability debt”.

The ITUC SDG8 composite indicator below – covering 145 countries corresponding to more than 97% of the world population – is calculated on the basis of four sub-domains related to four dimensions: economic well-being, employment quality, labour vulnerability, and labour rights. The rating ranges between 70-130 and the world average is set to 100.

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Quatrième révolution industrielle et migrations : comment assurer la transition dans les pays d’origine et de destination ?

Par Jason Gagnon, Économiste du développement et Catherine Gagnon, Stagiaire, Centre de développement de l’OCDE

Read this blog in English

Avec l’arrivée de nouvelles technologies qui brouillent les frontières entre sphères physique, numérique et biologique, un changement spectaculaire dans la façon dont nos économies et nos sociétés interagissent, produisent et communiquent est en cours. Et comme nos économies sont aujourd’hui plus que jamais interconnectées, cette révolution industrielle a lieu dans pratiquement tous les coins du monde. Parallèlement, les migrations internationales n’ont jamais été aussi nombreuses.

Ces deux mégatendances ont une forte interaction qui va considérablement modifier la mondialisation telle que nous la connaissons. Les pays du Conseil de coopération du Golfe (CCG) en sont une belle illustration : à la fois tournés vers un nouveau modèle économique, ils restent très dépendants de la main-d’œuvre migrante, notamment d’origine d’Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est. Des mesures politiques concrètes doivent donc être mises en place dans ces pays d’origine et de destination pour permettre une transition plus fluide au niveau mondial.

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The fourth industrial revolution and migration: how to ensure a smooth transition?

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist and Catherine Gagnon, Intern, OECD Development Centre

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A dramatic change in the way our economies and societies interact, produce and communicate is underway as a fusion of technologies blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. And with our economies more globally interlinked today than ever, this industrial revolution extends to practically every corner of the world. Meanwhile another sweeping trend is gaining traction: international migration is at an all-time high as new host countries, routes and freshly skilled workers multiply, and as a young population eager to make a mark on the world continues to grow.

The two megatrends of technology and international migration have the potential to significantly change globalisation as we know it. The Gulf countries offer an illustration of the especially pronounced interaction between both trends. On one hand, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have made it a priority to usher in this new economic era. On the other, GCC countries are some of the world’s most dependent countries on migrant labour. How can GCC countries ensure a smooth labour market transition as they shift to this new economic model? And how can the primary migrant countries of origin to the GCC – mostly in South and Southeast Asia – navigate the changes they will face in the main destinations for their labour migrants?

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Protecting migrant workers in the Gulf: don’t build back better over a poor foundation

By Vani Saraswathi, Editor-at-Large and Director of Projects, Migrant-Rights.Org

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states need to completely revamp past policies, and not merely attempt to bridge gaps or provide a salve to deep wounds.

Construction workers in Dubai, UAE. Photo: LongJon / Shutterstock

As of February 2020, millions of migrants –– primarily from South and Southeast Asia and increasingly from East African countries –– were holding up Gulf economies, working in sectors and for wages unappealing to the more affluent citizens. In countries with per capita GDP of US$62,000 or more, minimum wages ranged as low as US$200 per month.

Men were packed into portacabins and decrepit buildings, six to a room if lucky, hidden behind screens of dust and grime, away from the smart buildings they built and shiny glasses they cleaned. The women were trapped 24/7 in homes that are their workplaces, every movement monitored. It is accepted and normalised without question that these men and women will leave behind their families in the hopes of building a better future for themselves. That they may live all their productive life in a strange country, excluded from social security benefits and denied all rights of belonging, is seen as a small price to pay for the supposed fiscal benefits. The fact that the price is too steep is rarely discussed.

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A new social contract for informal workers: Bridging social protection and economic inclusion

By Martha Chen, Senior Advisor, WIEGO and Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection, WIEGO and Research Associate, Rhodes University, and Sophie Plagerson, Visiting Associate Professor, Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg

Photo by Martha Chen

Calls to renew the social contract have proliferated in recent years as the “standard” employer-employee relationship has ceased to be the norm, while traditional forms of informal employment persist and informalisation of once formal jobs is on the rise.1 However, there is a mismatch globally between traditional social contract models based on assumptions of full (male and formal) employment and the world of work today in which informal workers, both self- and wage employed, constitute over 60 per cent of the global workforce. Can the call for a new social contract really help to achieve greater recognition and a more level playing field for informal workers?

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Growth and labour markets in middle-income countries

By Rolph van der Hoeven1 International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University, The Hague & Member of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations

“You can check out any time you like but you can never leave… “

It is almost as if the lyrics of the world’s best rated song ‘Hotel California’ were written for the large category of middle-income countries (MICs) as since the classification was introduced in 1992 only four2 MICs outside Eastern and Western Europe (The Republic of Korea, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina) have so far managed to ‘graduate’ to the high-income category. Are all other countries unable ‘to leave’?

To look into this, it is worth recalling that the middle-income country group is a vast one and spans countries with considerable differences in per capita income, growth rates and labour market experiences. MICs are therefore often subdivided into Lower and Higher Middle-Income country categories. To see how dynamics play out, it is therefore as important to look how countries develop within the large MIC grouping, as it is to look at the differences between those MICs that have graduated to the high-income category and those that have not.

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COVID-19 and labour markets in Latin America: How to repair the damage?

By José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs, Former Regional Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Latin America and the Caribbean, and former Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Lima, Peru – April 7, 2020. Photo: Shutterstock

The damage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global lockdown crisis will be devastating, causing the worst disruption to labour markets in Latin America since the Great Depression. Up to 43 million people – probably more – could be unemployed in 2020. Tragically, the state of labour markets in the region was bad even before the crisis. Repairing the damage while addressing past structural legacies is possible, but it will be slow and challenging, and will require something most countries in the region have not done well in the past: a massive focus on microeconomic policies for accelerated productive transformation, and technological and human talent development.

The damage has only just begun and is still evolving, but already looks severe. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates a contraction for the region of -5.3%, the IMF of -5.2%, and the World Bank of -4.6%. All projections now point to severe recessions in all countries in the region. Continue reading

The Case for Gender-Smart Work Policies: Key to Equality, Good for Business

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By Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel


This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCBM seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, and check out an event about it here

The HCBM project originated in 2015 within the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and is now based at the OECD’s Development Centre

This blog is also part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


We have witnessed numerous efforts to enhance gender equality throughout the past decade. Legal reforms are taking place worldwide, and discriminatory laws are slowly being struck down in favour of parity.[1] But despite developments in employment laws, inequality persists. Women’s labour participation has been stagnant, and last year, the already low number of female CEOs tumbled even further.[2] As the provider of 90% of jobs worldwide,[3] the private sector plays a significant role in the push for gender equality in employment. By adopting gender-smart policies, companies may be able to fill the gaps unaddressed by laws and minimise the impacts of inequality in the workplace. Although not all women work in these institutions, such policies are nonetheless impactful for those who do and could set in motion a new and replicable culture of work – one that is both business-smart and more gender-inclusive. Continue reading

Turning a commitment into actions

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By Mario Cerutti, Chief Institutional Relations & Sustainability Officer, Lavazza Group


To learn more about countries’ strategies for economic transformation, follow the 10th  Plenary Meeting and High-Level Meeting of the OECD Initiative for Policy Dialogue on Global Value Chains, Production Transformation and Developmentin Paris, France on 27-28 June 2018.


logo TOward2030At the beginning of 2017, Lavazza launched ‘’Goal Zero’’ – a call to collective action amongst our many stakeholders to pursue the 17 Global Goals of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The company decided that co-operation, instead of going it alone, is fundamental for any significant results. Still, we faced the question of how to engage different stakeholders in one all-encompassing plan. For Lavazza, answering this means engaging our different stakeholders – employees, youth, suppliers and the surrounding community – using tailored communications tools. We believe that only a strong commitment originating from within Lavazza can, in turn, fuel external communications. So, here’s how we are proceeding:
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What youth need: A greater focus on job quality

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By Niall O’Higgins, Senior Research Specialist, Youth Employment Programme, International Labour Organisation (ILO)


Learn more about this timely topic on the upcoming
OECD Global Forum on Development
Register today to attend


women-africaFor young people, successful entry into the world of work – that is, successful transition from education to employment – means more than simply finding a job. Successful transition occurs only when young people find decent work. What is actually meant by this has been the subject of much debate for a number of years; but its essence is encapsulated in the ILO’s notion of freely chosen and productive employment.

While it can be hard to define precisely what ‘decent work’ looks like, it is fairly clear what it is not. It is not informal employment. It is not work that provides insufficient income to meet basic needs. It does not involve excessive working time or any form of compulsion. Typically, it does involve some degree of job security, protection from arbitrary dismissal, access to social protection, such as health insurance and pension schemes, and freedom of association.
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