Human Development Perspectives

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The books in this series address main and emerging development issues of a global/regional nature through original research and findings in the areas of Education, Gender, Health, Nutrition, Population, Social Protection and Jobs. This series is aimed at policy makers and area experts and is overseen by the Human Development Practice Group Chief Economist.

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    Protecting All: Risk Sharing for a Diverse and Diversifying World of Work
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-09-09) Packard, Truman ; Gentilini, Ugo ; Grosh, Margaret ; O’Keefe, Philip ; Palacios, Robert ; Robalino, David ; Santos, Indhira
    This white paper focusses on the policy interventions made to help people manage risk, uncertainty and the losses from events whose impacts are channeled primarily through the labor market. The objectives of the white paper are: to scrutinize the relevance and effects of prevailing risk-sharing policies in low- and middle-income countries; take account of how global drivers of disruption shape and diversify how people work; in light of this diversity, propose alternative risk-sharing policies, or ways to augment and improve current policies to be more relevant and responsive to peoples’ needs; and map a reasonable transition path from the current to an alternative policy approach that substantially extends protection to a greater portion of working people and their families. This white paper is a contribution to the broader, global discussion of the changing nature of work and how policy can shape its implications for the wellbeing of people. We use the term risk-sharing policies broadly in reference to the set of institutions, regulations and interventions that societies put in place to help households manage shocks to their livelihoods. These policies include formal rules and structures that regulate market interactions (worker protections and other labor market institutions) that help people pool risks (social assistance and social insurance), to save and insure affordably and effectively (mandatory and incentivized individual savings and other financial instruments) and to recover from losses in the wake of livelihood shocks (“active” reemployment measures). Effective risk-sharing policies are foundational to building equity, resilience and opportunity, the strategic objectives of the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice. Given failures of factor markets and the market for risk in particular the rationale for policy intervention to augment the options that people have to manage shocks to their livelihoods is well-understood and accepted. By helping to prevent vulnerable people from falling into poverty -and people in the poorest households from falling deeper into poverty- effective risk-sharing interventions dramatically reduce poverty. Households and communities with access to effective risk-sharing instruments can better maintain and continue to invest in these vital assets, first and foremost, their human capital, and in doing so can reduce the likelihood that poverty and vulnerability will be transmitted from one generation to the next. Risk-sharing policies foster enterprise and development by ensuring that people can take appropriate risks required to grasp opportunities and secure their stake in a growing economy.
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    Risking Your Health : Causes, Consequences, and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2014) de Walque, Damien ; de Walque, Damien
    Behaviors that pose risks for an individual’s health and that also represent important threats for public health, such as drug use, smoking, alcohol, unhealthy eating causing obesity, and unsafe sex, are highly prevalent in low income countries, even though they are traditionally associated with richer countries. Individual choices are an important part of the risky behaviors. Risking Your Health: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors explore how those choices are formed and what are their consequences. Why do people engage in risky behaviors? Many different explanations have been proposed by psychology, sociology, economics or public health. One trait common to all these behaviors is that there is a disconnect – a function of both delay and uncertainty - between the pleasure or satisfaction provided by them and their consequences. Another characteristic of risky behaviors is that they rarely occur in isolation. Peer-pressure, parental influences, networks and social norms often play an important role in initiating, continuing, or quitting those behaviors. Even if they might often be the first to suffer, the consequences of risky behaviors are also rarely limited to the individuals engaging in them. In certain cases, such as second-hand smoking or HIV transmission, the link is direct. In other cases, the link is less direct but not necessarily less real: the long term health consequences of many of these behaviors are costly to treat and could stretch households’ finances and worsen poverty. Finally, these risky behaviors have consequences for society as a whole since they often trigger a non-trivial amount of public health expenditures and lead to declines in aggregate productivity through premature death and morbidity. Changing behaviors is tricky -- public health interventions via legislation with strong enforcement mechanisms can be more effective than simple communication campaigns informing consumers about the risks associated with certain behaviors, since translating knowledge into concrete changes in behavior seems to be hard to achieve. Economic mechanisms such as taxes (especially on alcohol and tobacco products), subsidies (such as free condoms), and conditional/unconditional cash transfers are also used to reduce risky behaviors (for example in HIV prevention). Of great interest to policy makers, academics and practitioners, this book assesses the efficiency of those interventions designed to reduce the prevalence of behaviors that endanger health.
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    The Right Skills for the Job? Rethinking Training Policies for Workers
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2012) Almeida, Rita ; Behrman, Jere ; Robalino, David ; Almeida, Rita ; Behrman, Jere ; Robalino, David
    This book addresses the question of how to build and upgrade job relevant skills. Specifically, the authors focus on three types of training programs relevant for individuals who are leaving formal general schooling or are already in the labor market: pre-employment technical and vocational education and training (TVET); on-the-job training (OJT); and training-related active labor market programs (ALMPs). ALMPs are usually of shorter duration and target individuals who are seeking a second chance and who do not have access to TVET or OJT; these are often low-skilled unemployed or informal workers. Contrary to training-related ALMPs, pre-employment TVET is usually offered within the formal schooling track and tends to be administered by the ministries of education. The book discusses the main justifications for these programs and how they relate to market failures that can lead to underinvestment in training and misalignment between supply and demand for skills. Unfortunately, governments are also prone to failure and many of the programs that countries have adopted today are part of the problem and not the solution. This book proposes options to improve the design and implementation of current skills development systems. Clearly, the authors cannot cover all issues in detail. Training methods among TVET, OJT, and ALMP programs are quite different, ranging from classroom instruction, laboratory research, TVET workshops, and apprenticeship arrangements and internships in firms. All have different challenges and specificities. The report highlights the most important design features of the different programs and points to the main knowledge gaps and areas for future research and analysis. The book is organized into five chapters. Following this overview, chapter two introduces the policy framework that guides the analysis in the book. This framework describes the main market and government failures that require attention and identifies potential interventions to address them. Chapter's three to five then discuss the main challenges facing, respectively, TVET, OJT, and training-related ALMP programs and outlines recommendations to address them. The rest of this overview summarizes the main messages from each of the chapters and in the last section outlines the main knowledge gaps and proposes an agenda for future research and policy analysis.