Robalino, Robalino, David A.

Labor and Youth, Human Development Network, World Bank, Employment and Development Program, German Institute of Labor (IZA)
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Labor markets, Social Insurance
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Labor and Youth, Human Development Network, World Bank
Employment and Development Program, German Institute of Labor (IZA)
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Last updated January 31, 2023
David Robalino is the Lead Economist and Leader of the Labor and Youth Team in the Human Development Anchor of the World Bank.  He also serves as Co-Director of the Employment and Development program at IZA – the Institute for the Study of the Labor.  Since joining the Bank David has been working on issues related to social security, labor markets and fiscal policy. He has worked in several countries in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia.  David has published on issues related to macroeconomics and labor markets, social insurance and pensions, health financing, the economics of HIV/AIDS, and the economics of climate change.  More recently David has been working on issues related to the design of unemployment benefits systems in middle income countries, the extension of social insurance programs to the informal sector, and the integration of social protection and education/training policies to improve labor market outcomes and productivity growth.  Prior to joining the Bank David was a researcher at the RAND Corporation where he was involved in research on health, population and labor, climate change, and the development of quantitative methods for policy analysis under conditions of uncertainty.  David also served in the Presidential Committee for Social Security Reform in Ecuador.  David did his graduate studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica – California.  

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 39
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    Assessing the Distortions of Mandatory Pensions on Labor Supply Decisions and Human Capital Accumulation : How to Bridge the Gap between Economic Theory and Policy Analysis
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-09) Bodor, András ; Robalino, David ; Rutkowski, Michal
    Mandatory pension systems play a major role in individual savings and labor supply decisions. In particular, it is well known that defined benefit pension schemes, which are not actuarially fair, can create incentives for early retirement and therefore reduce labor supply and the stock of human capital in a given country. This is an important policy issue in middle-income countries, with still low participation rates in the labor force, where the "window" opened by the demographic transition is already closed or will close in the near future. In these countries, policies to stimulate private sector growth, competitiveness, and employment creation should be accompanied by policies that increase labor force participation, raising the ratio of active to inactive population and therefore the potential for higher income per capita growth. Unfortunately, the analytical tools developed to assess pension reform options tend to focus on the financial sustainability of the schemes and the adequacy of benefits. Little attention is given in practice to the social costs imposed by distortions on the supply of labor. In part, this is given by the lack of analytical tools that, in the context of limited information regarding individual preferences and behavior, can be used to assess the magnitude of these distortions. This paper develops methodologies that can bridge the gap between economic theory and the practices of pension policy personnel under conditions of deep uncertainty regarding the variables driving individual behavioral responses to policy changes. First, the paper develops an indicator to predict the age-specific retirement probabilities induced by a particular pension system, given heterogeneous individual preferences over risk, consumption, and leisure. The paper then describes how this indicator can be used to project the size of the labor force by gender, age and skill level and therefore the dynamics of human capital accumulation. The integration of these two analytical tools allow us to show the impact of a particular pension reform proposals on the dynamics of labor supply, human capital and, given the dynamics of capital and total factor productivity, economic growth. Furthermore, the paper develops a set of life-cycle income measures for typical individual paths that allow us to measure the contribution of segmented pension schemes to the segmentation of the labor market. The methods are applied to the case of Morocco.
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    Assessing Interactions among Education, Social Insurance, and Labor Market Policies in a General Equilibrium Framework : An Application to Morocco
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Marouani, Mohamed A. ; Robalino, David A.
    This paper develops a general equilibrium model to analyze the marginal and joint impacts that alternative macroeconomic, education, and social protection policies have on the dynamics of employment and unemployment by skill level. The model introduces a disaggregated treatment of the labor market that incorporates an informal sub-sector in every sector of the economy. The analysis explicitly models the distribution of skills in the labor force by following over time sex-age cohorts across various levels of the education system and in the labor market. And it integrates a module that projects the revenues and expenditures of the pension system. The model is applied to the case of Morocco. Simulations show that even under positive assumptions regarding economic growth, unemployment rates are likely to remain close to current levels in the next decade. The paper argues that only an integrated package of policies that affect the macro-economy, the investment climate, and the education and social protection systems would allow sustainable creation of enough "good quality" jobs.
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    Working through the Crisis : Jobs and Policies in Developing Countries during the Great Recession
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2014) Banerji, Arup ; Newhouse, David ; Paci, Pierella ; Robalino, David ; Banerji, Arup ; Newhouse, David ; Paci, Pierella ; Robalino, David
    This book looks back both at how the Great Recession affected employment outcomes in developing countries and at how governments responded. The chapters bring together a unique compilation of data and analysis from very different sources, including an inventory of policies implemented during the crisis among countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. The overall story is that the impacts of the crisis varied considerably. The effect depended on the size of the original shock, the channels through which it was manifested, the structure of institutions in the country -- especially labor institutions -- and the specific policy responses undertaken by countries in response to the shock. While these factors led outcomes to differ across the countries studied, a few common patterns emerged. In terms of impacts, overall adjustments involved reductions in earnings growth rather than employment growth, although the quality of employment was also affected. Youth were doubly affected, being more likely to both experience unemployment and reduced wages. Men seemed to have been more strongly affected than women. In most countries where data are available, there were no major differences between skilled and unskilled workers or those living in urban or rural areas. In terms of policy responses, this crisis was characterized by a high prevalence of active interventions in the labor market and the expansion of income protection systems, as well as countercyclical stimulus. Countercyclical stimulus measures in a number of countries, when timed well and sufficiently large to mitigate the shock, were effective in reducing adverse employment effects. Specific sectoral stimulus policies also had positive effects when well-targeted. But social protection and labor market policy responses were often ad-hoc and not in line with the types of adjustments that were taking place. As a result, these policies and programs did not necessarily reach those who needed them the most and typically were biased toward formal sector workers. In retrospect, there is a sense that developing countries were not well prepared to deal with the effects of the Great Recession, suggesting room for important reforms to social protection and labor policies moving forward.
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    Youth Employment : A Human Development Agenda for the Next Decade
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-06) Robalino, David ; Margolis, David ; Rother, Friederike ; Newhouse, David ; Lundberg, Mattias
    This paper reviews the main challenges facing countries in attempting to improve labor market outcomes among youth, focusing on the issues that became starkly visible during the recent financial crisis. In order to better identify and set up human development interventions, the paper proposes an agenda that focuses on three areas: (1) improving the understanding of the causes and consequences of poor labor market outcomes for youth; (2) continuing to learn from the evaluation of pilots and programs that aim to promote productive employment among young people; and (3) addressing implementation issues which frequently overwhelm the best designs. The paper utilizes research on youth employment to take stock of youth labor market outcomes across regions, focusing on inactivity, unemployment, and employment indicators. A review of what is known about current interventions, including those that appear in the youth employment Inventory database of programs, provides the basis for determining the efficacy of five categories of intervention: (i) skills training (including vocational training, on-the-job-training programs, literacy and numeracy programs, second-chance and equivalency programs, and soft-skills programs); (ii) entrepreneurship promotion (financial assistance, technical assistance, and entrepreneurship training); (iii) subsidized employment (including wage subsidy programs, public works, and public/community service programs); (iv) employment services (including search assistance and access to labor market information, job counseling and placement services, and financial assistance for job search); and (v) reforms to labor market regulation (including anti-discrimination legislation) training programs, wage subsidies. Finally, the paper proposes an agenda for research and policy analysis in the area of human development that is expected to help both deepen the understanding of youth employment issues and improve the selection, design, and implementation of youth employment programs.
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    Labor Market Policies under a Youth Bulge : How to Benefit from Demographic Dividend in Pakistan
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Robalino, David ; Cho, Yoonyoung
    This paper assesses labor market trends and outcomes in Pakistan over the past decade. It shows that despite a high rate of employment growth, labor market outcomes have been disappointing: most jobs have been created in low productivity sectors/activities, and even if they provide a minimum level of income to often avoid poverty, they remain low quality jobs providing little or no protection to workers against shocks. In addition, female participation rates for women are very low and there are large income disparities between rural and urban areas, and across sectors. A fundamental part of the problem is the low level of education of the labor force. Pakistan is currently in the midst of a demographic transition that is bringing a growing number of youth into the labor market. This youth bulge that is unwinding opens both challenges and opportunities. Challenges because of the need to create enough jobs to employ new entrants; Opportunities, because if this is done the country will enjoy a demographic dividend , as the share of those employed relative to the dependent increases, driving up income per capita and standards of living.
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    Does Fiscal Decentralization Improve Health Outcomes? Evidence from a Cross-Country Analysis
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-03) Robalino, David A. ; Picazo, Oscar F. ; Voetberg, Albertus
    Decentralization of fiscal responsibilities has emerged as a primary objective on the agendas of national governments, and international organizations alike. Yet there is little empirical evidence on the potential benefits of this intervention. The authors fill in some quantitative evidence. Using panel data on infant mortality rates, GDP per capita, and the share of public expenditures managed by local governments, they find greater fiscal decentralization is consistently associated with lower mortality rates. The results suggest that the benefits of fiscal decentralization are particularly important for poor countries. They suggest also that the positive effects of fiscal decentralization on infant mortality, are greater in institutional environments that promote political rights. Fiscal decentralization also appears to be a mechanism for improving health outcomes in environments with a high level of ethno-linguistic fractionalization, however, the benefits from fiscal decentralization tend to be smaller.
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    An Ex-Ante Evaluation of the Impact of Social Insurance Policies on Labor Supply in Brazil : The Case for Explicit Over Implicit Redistribution
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Robalino, David A. ; Zylberstajn, Eduardo ; Zylberstajn, Helio ; Afonso, Luis Eduardo
    This paper solves and estimates a stochastic model of optimal inter-temporal behavior to assess how changes in the design of the income protection and pension systems in Brazil could affect savings rates, the share of time that individuals spend outside of the formal sector, and retirement decisions. Dynamics depend on five main parameters: preferences regarding consumption and leisure, preferences regarding formal Vs. informal work, attitudes towards risks, the rate of time preference, and the distributions of two exogenous shocks that affect movements in and out of the social security system (independently of individual decisions). The yearly household survey is used to create a pseudo panel by age-cohorts and estimate the joint distribution of model parameters based on a generalized version of the Gibbs sampler. The model does a good job in replicating the distribution of the members of the cohort across states (in or out of them social security / active or retired). Because the parameters are related to individual preferences or exogenous shocks, the joint distribution is unlikely to change when the social insurance system changes. Thus, the model is used to explore how alternative policy interventions could affect behaviors and through this channel benefit levels and fiscal costs. The results from various simulations provide three main insights: (i) the Brazilian SI system today might generate unnecessary distortions (lower savings rates, less formal employment, and more early retirement) that increase the costs of the system and might generate regressive redistribution; (ii) there are important interactions between the income protection and pension systems, which calls for joint policy analysis when considering reforms; and (iii) current distortions could be reduced by creating an actuarial link between contributions and benefits and then giving matching contributions or matching capital to individuals with limited savings capacity, which requires having individual savings accounts that can be funded or notional.
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    Designing and Implementing Unemployment Benefit Systems in Middle and Low Income Countries : Key Choices between Insurance and Savings Accounts
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Robalino, David A. ; Weber, Michael
    Several middle income countries are considering reforms of severance pay regulations to both increase flexibility for firms and better protect workers. Policy discussions then often revolve around whether to adopt an unemployment insurance (UI) scheme or unemployment individual savings accounts (UISAs). Proponents of the first emphasize its ability to pool risks and introduce an element of solidarity. Critics point to its potentially negative effects on labor supply as individuals can have fewer incentives to seek, take or keep jobs. In this paper, the authors show that UI and UISAs are, in fact, particular cases of a more general design and that the crucial policy choice is in terms of how redistribution - to cover benefits for those who cannot save enough is financed. The authors outline key features of this general design and discuss trade-offs and possible solutions. The authors discusses issues related to implementation and show how recent technological developments around biometric identification can facilitate the monitoring of conditionalities related to participation in job-search and training activities.
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    Supporting Self-Employment and Small-Scale Entrepreneurship : Potential Programs to Improve Livelihoods for Vulnerable Workers
    (World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-10) Cho, Yoonyoung ; Robalino, David ; Watson, Samantha
    Worldwide, around 55 percent of workers are self-employed, and about three-quarters of these are likely to be subsistence entrepreneurs. These self-employed workers include farmers and own-account workers, many of whom work in small household enterprises without pay. A large proportion of these workers live in poor or vulnerable households. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, close to 80 percent of the self-employed are poor. While numerous countries have adopted programs that aim to promote self-employment and small-scale entrepreneurship (SSE), the design of such programs seems ill suited to respond to the needs of those who engage in entrepreneurial activities not by choice, but by necessity. This note discusses the potential public policy role of programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of subsistence entrepreneurs . It begins by looking at the characteristics of self-employed workers, the different types of entrepreneurs, and the constraints they face. It then analyzes the potential role of public policy in improving the earning opportunities of subsistence entrepreneurs, the types of programs that could be used, and general issues to be considered when designing and implementing pilot interventions. The note has four main messages: identify interventions to support subsistence entrepreneurs, the evidence of what works is limited, interventions that complement safety net programs, adopt a more systematic approach to designing, implementing, and evaluating new programs.
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    Skills and Jobs: Lessons Learned and Options for Collaboration
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Sanchez Puerta, Maria Laura ; Robalino, David A. ; Strokova, Victoria ; Lord, Nick ; Perinet, Mathilde
    The accumulation of human capital through the acquisition of knowledge and skills is recognized as central for economic development. More-educated workers not only have better employment opportunities, they earn more and have more stable and rewarding jobs. They are also more adaptable and mobile. Workers who acquire more skills make other workers and capital more productive and, within the firm, they facilitate the adaptation, adoption, and ultimately invention of new technologies. This is crucial for economic diversification, productivity growth, and ultimately raising the living standards of living of the population. The structure of the note is as follows. First, it examines the different types of market failures, and subsequently reviews the role that governments have played in training systems around the world. Finally it offers a set of proposals for reforming and improving these systems to improve labor market outcomes.