World Bank Latin American and Caribbean Studies
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This regional flagship series features major development reports from the Latin America and Caribbean region unit of the World Bank. They aim to enrich the debate on the major development challenges and opportunities the region faces as it strives to meet the evolving needs of its people. Titles in this series undergo extensive internal and external review.
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Employment in Crisis: The Path to Better Jobs in a Post-COVID-19 Latin America(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-06-17) Silva, Joana ; Sousa, Liliana D. ; Packard, Truman G. ; Robertson, RaymondA region known for its volatility, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has suffered severe economic and social setbacks from crises—including the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises have taken their toll on careers, wage growth, and productivity. Employment in Crisis: The Path to Better Jobs in a Post-COVID-19 Latin America provides new evidence on the effects of crises on the region’s workers and firms and suggests several policy responses that can bolster long-term and inclusive economic growth. This report has three key findings. First, crises lead to persistent employment losses and accelerate structural changes away from the formal sector. This change occurs more through reductions in the creation of formal jobs than through job destruction. Second, some workers recover from crises, while others are permanently scarred by them. Low-skilled workers can suffer up to a decade of lower earnings caused by crises, while high-skilled workers rebound fast, exacerbating the LAC region’s high level of inequality. Formal workers suffer smaller employment and wage losses in localities with higher rates of informality. And the reduced job flows caused by crises decrease welfare, but workers in localities with more job opportunities, whether formal or informal, bounce back better. Third, crises’ cleansing effects can increase efficiency and productivity, but these effects are dampened by the LAC region’s less competitive market structure. Rather than becoming more agile and productive during economic downturns, protected sectors and firms gain market share and crowd out others, trapping valuable resources. This report proposes a three-pronged mix of policies to improve the LAC region’s responses to crises: • Create a more stable macroeconomic environment to smooth the impacts of crises, including automatic stabilizers such as unemployment insurance and short-term compensation programs; • Increase the capacity of social protection and labor programs to respond to crises and coalesce these programs into systems that complement income support with reemployment assistance and reskilling opportunities; and • Tackle structural issues, including the lack of product market competition and the spatial dimension behind poor labor market adjustment—a “good jobs and good firms” agenda.
Going Viral: COVID-19 and the Accelerated Transformation of Jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-09-28) Beylis, Guillermo ; Fattal-Jaef, Roberto ; Sinha, Rishabh ; Morris, Michael ; Sebastian, Ashwini RekhaThe economic impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented in size and scope. It has quickly evolved from a health emergency into an employment crisis. It also has far-reaching implications for workers beyond the immediate employment effects, as it most likely has accelerated the transformation process of jobs that had already started in the region and the world. This book focuses on three important pre-pandemic trends observed in the region—namely, premature deindustrialization, servicification of the economy, and task automation—that were significantly changing the labor market landscape in the region and that have been accelerated by the crisis. While there is still uncertainty about the economic impacts of Covid-19, policymakers need to start planning for a rapidly evolving future that will come sooner than expected. A strong focus on productivity, technology development and adoption, and training in relevant skills will be key to adapting and taking advantage of the new opportunities in the post-pandemic world. Importantly, the accelerated transformation of jobs calls for a rethinking of labor regulations and social protection policies geared towards wage earners employed in the formal sector of the economy. The three trends identified in Going Viral, the effects of the pandemic itself, and the growing reliance on electronic platforms raise doubts that wage employment will increase substantially in the coming years. At the same time, earnings and transactions processed through electronic platforms are more visible to the authorities, bringing an opportunity to increase tax revenue and social security contributions. The flexible regulation of the emerging forms of work in a way that encourages employment, supports formalization, and expands the coverage of social protection to larger segments of the population will be of utmost importance for policymakers preparing for a new and changed world.