Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Seminar Details

13 Nov 2006

Employment and Development: Good Jobs, Bad Jobs
Monday, November 13, 2006
ICRIER organized a lecture by Professor Francois Bourguignon, Chief Economist of the World Bank Unit in South Asia Region, entitled �Employment and Development: Good Jobs, Bad Jobs.� The session was chaired by Mr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Industrial Policy and Planning. Professor Francois Bourguignon redefined the concepts of employment and unemployment in order to analyse labour market conditions. He said that in some of the fastest growing economies, economic growth was accompanied by a growing inequality in the earnings and household income that prevented the benefits of growth from percolating to all the layers of the society. So it was essential to shift focus from the number of jobs being created to the level of earnings at which they are being employed. In that sense, he said, the unemployment rate and participation rate are not meaningful concepts for analysing the labour market conditions that required the use of extended set of indicators. 

He introduced the concept of �Working Poor� defining it as a person who has a decent level of earnings but supports a large family, with very few of its members participating in the labour force. He cited examples of Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the number of working poor exceeded those unemployed. Thus he highlighted that the unemployment rate was not a good enough indicator of poverty. He defined a �Bad Job� as a low paid job that failed to provide 50% of the median consumption per capita. He added that the low pay threshold being a relative concept was changing overtime. Only in an economy with full employment and good jobs would there be no poverty, he said.


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