South Asia Development Forum
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Home to a fifth of mankind, and to almost half of the people living in poverty, South Asia is also a region of marked contrasts: from conflict-affected areas to vibrant democracies, from demographic bulges to aging societies, from energy crises to global companies. This series explores the challenges faced by a region whose fate is critical to the success of global development in the early 21st century, and can also make a difference for global peace. The volumes in it organize in an accessible way findings from recent research and lessons of experience, across a range of development topics. The series is intended to present new ideas and to stimulate debate among practitioners, researchers, and all those interested in public policies. In doing so, it exposes the options faced by decision makers in the region and highlights the enormous potential of this fast-changing part of the world.
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From Jobs to Careers: Apparel Exports and Career Paths for Women in Developing Countries(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022) Frederick, Stacey ; Lopez-Acevedo, Gladys ; Robertson, Raymond ; Vergara Bahena, Mexico A.It is well-established that bringing more women into the formal labor force is critical for economic development. One strategy often cited is further integrating developing countries into global trade, particularly global value chains (GVCs), to contribute to female labor market outcomes through the expansion of female-intensive industries. As a result, a big question frequently debated, is whether the apparel industry – which is the most female-intensive and globally engaged manufacturing industry – can be a key player in this regard. In recent decades, the apparel industry has shifted its production to low-wage developing countries, increasing the demand for women, closing male-female wage gaps, and bringing women into the formal labor force. Indeed, the benefits of apparel exports have reached the female population, but is an apparel-led export strategy sufficient to induce the transition from jobs to careers? This Report provides an answer by focusing on seven countries where the apparel industry plays an important role in its export basket – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. The Report’s key finding is that countries should take advantage of the apparel industry as a launching platform to overcome the fixed costs of introducing more women into the labor market. However, for this approach to work, there needs to be complementary policies that tackle the barriers that hinder women in their pursuit of long-term participation in the labor force and better-paid occupations. A hope is to shift the paradigm of how we think of women’s participation in the labor force by demonstrating the importance of the distinction between jobs and careers. Although aspirations towards careers are achieved in different ways, understanding how progress is being made in each country towards a more equitable life between men and women will pave the way for a better route forward.
The Converging Technology Revolution and Human Capital: Potential and Implications for South Asia(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-09-08) Bashir, Sajitha ; Dahlman, Carl J. ; Kanehira, Naoto ; Tilmes, KlausSouth Asia is heavily impacted by the devastating loss of lives and human capital from the COVID-19 pandemic and the converging technology revolution sweeping the globe. The Converging Technology Revolution and Human Capital: Potential and Implications for South Asia looks at how the region could capitalize on these technologies to accelerate its development of human capital and promote adaptability and resilience to future shocks. The convergence of technological breakthroughs spanning biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science is driven by artificial intelligence, data flows, computing power, and connectivity. These breakthroughs can improve service delivery, productivity, and innovation, but they can also exacerbate inequalities and eliminate people’s agency and empowerment. This report analyzes these trends in the region, offering a comprehensive agenda to exploit the opportunities offered by converging technologies while minimizing the risks to vulnerable populations. It proposes strategies for building public sector capacity and promoting data and technology governance frameworks in a rapidly evolving technology landscape.
Ready to Learn: Before School, In School, and Beyond School in South Asia(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-02-19) Beteille, Tara ; Tognatta, Namrata ; Riboud, Michelle ; Nomura, Shinsaku ; Ghorpade, YashodhanCountries that have sustained rapid growth over decades have typically had a strong public commitment to expanding education as well as to improving learning outcomes. South Asian countries have made considerable progress in expanding access to primary and secondary schooling, with countries having achieved near-universal enrollment of the primary-school-age cohort (ages 6–11), except for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Secondary enrollment shows an upward trend as well. Beyond school, many more people have access to skill-improving opportunities and higher education today. Although governments have consistently pursued policies to expand access, a prominent feature of the region has been the role played by non-state actors—private nonprofit and for-profit entities—in expanding access at every level of education. Though learning levels remain low, countries in the region have shown a strong commitment to improving learning. All countries in South Asia have taken the first step, which is to assess learning outcomes regularly. Since 2010, there has been a rapid increase in the number of large-scale student learning assessments conducted in the region. But to use the findings of these assessments to improve schooling, countries must build their capacity to design assessments and analyze and use findings to inform policy.
Exports to Jobs: Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-02-24) Artuc, Erhan ; Lopez-Acevedo, Gladys ; Robertson, Raymond ; Samaan, DanielSouth Asia’s economy has grown rapidly, and the region has made a significant reduction in poverty. However, the available jobs for the growing working population remain limited. Policy makers are contending with lingering concerns about jobless growth and poor job quality. Exports to Jobs: Boosting the Gains from Trade in South Asia posits that exports, could bring higher wages and better jobs to South Asia. We use a new methodology to estimate the potential impact from higher South Asian exports per worker on wages and employment. We find that increasing exports per worker would result in higher wages, mostly for the better-off groups—like the better-educated workers, men, and the more-experienced workers—although the less-skilled and rural workers would benefit from new job opportunities outside of the informal sector. Our report shows that to spread the benefits from higher exports widely, policies are needed to raise skills and get certain groups, such as women and youth, into more and better jobs. Complementary measures include removing trade barriers and investing in infrastructure, and increasing the ability of workers to find higher-paying jobs. Together, these actions would help South Asian countries spread the gains from being closely integrated into the global economy through exporting. This book, which is the product of a partnership between the International Labour Organization and the World Bank, contributes to our understanding of the impact that growing exports can have on increasing well-being, and it bridges the gap between academic research and policy making.