Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice
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Labor economics, Development economics
Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Indhira Santos is the Global Lead for Labor & Skills in the Social Protection & Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank. She was a primary author of the 2019 World Development Report “The Changing Nature of Work” and the 2016 World Development Report “Digital Dividends”. She has worked on the Africa, Europe and Central Asia and South Asia Regions at the World Bank since joining as a Young Professional in 2009. Prior to joining the World Bank, she was a Research Fellow at Bruegel, a European policy think tank in Brussels, between 2007 and 2009. She has also worked for the Economic Research Center of the PUCMM University and the Ministry of Finance (Dominican Republic). She was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard University, where she obtained her PhD in Public Policy and a Masters in Public Administration in International Development.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 14
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Oral, Isil ; Santos, Indhira ; Zhang, FanThis paper analyzes the differential impact of climate change policies on employment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In particular, the paper examines (i) how vulnerable labor markets are in Eastern European and Central Asian countries to future carbon regulation, and (ii) what countries can do to mitigate some of the potential negative effects of these regulatory changes on employment. In many aspects, the nature of the shock associated with climate regulation is similar to that associated with an increase in energy prices. Constraints on carbon emissions put a price on climate-damaging activities and make hydrocarbon-based energy production and consumption more expensive. As a result, firms in energy-intensive industries may react to higher energy prices by reducing production, which in turn would lead to lower employment. In the presence of frictions in labor markets, these sector shifts will cause resources to be unemployed, at least in the short term. Using principal component analysis, the paper finds that Eastern European and Central Asian countries vary greatly in their vulnerability and adaptability of employment to carbon regulation. Since the economy takes time to adjust, policy-makers will need to ensure that the incentives are there for new firms to emerge and employ workers, and that workers have the skills to respond to that demand. Moreover, governments have a role to play in ensuring that workers that are displaced have a proper safety net that will not only help in protecting their welfare, but will also allow workers to make more efficient labor market transitions.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-04) Koettl, Johannes ; Mata, Elizabeth ; Saiovici, Gady ; Santos, IndhiraEmployment recovery stalls in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to recover in most ECA countries, but the recovery remains fragile. Growth prospects remain poor in a number of countries where GDP continues to decline. This slowdown in the economic recovery is also evident at the sub-regional level. Unemployment has stabilized, with an average unemployment rate of 12 percent across the ECA region. Since the start of the crisis, men have been disproportionally hit by unemployment. The recent pace of job creation has not been sufficient to absorb the large pool of unemployed, resulting in growing long-term unemployment. Despite the rise in long-term unemployment, activity rates have increased or remained constant in most countries since 2008. ECA labor markets adjusted to the crisis not only through higher unemployment, but also through fewer work hours. Given the already low levels of employment in the region and a bleak demographic outlook, avoiding labor market detachment among the long-term unemployed, the inactive, and youth is the main challenge for policy makers in the near term.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2014-01-15) Arias, Omar S. ; Sánchez-Páramo, Carolina ; Dávalos, María E. ; Santos, Indhira ; Tiongson, Erwin R. ; Gruen, Carola ; de Andrade Falcão, Natasha ; Saiovici, Gady ; Cancho, Cesar A.Creating more and better jobs is arguably the most critical challenge to boosting shared prosperity in ECA. This report answers two questions: How can the countries create more jobs? Should there be specific policies to help workers access those jobs?. In answering them, the report examines the role of reforms, firms, skills, incentives and barriers to work, and labor mobility through the lens of two contextual factors: the legacy of centralized planned economies and the mounting demographic pressures associated with rapid aging in some countries and soaring numbers of youth entering the workforce in others. The main findings of the report are: i) market reforms pay off in terms of jobs and productivity, although with a lag; ii) a small fraction of superstar high-growth firms, largely young, account for most of new jobs created in the region- thus, countries, especially late reformers, need to unleash the potential of high levels of latent entrepreneurship to start-up new firms; iii) skills gaps hinder employment prospects, especially of youth and older workers, due to the inadequate response of the education and training system to changes in the demand for skills; iv) employment is hindered by high implicit taxes on work for those transitioning to work from inactivity or unemployment and barriers that affect especially women, minorities, youth and older workers; and, v) low internal labor mobility prevents labor relocation to places with greater job creation potential. The report argues that to get more people back to work by growing with jobs, countries need to regain the momentum for economic and institutional reforms that existed before the crisis in order to: (i) lay the fundamentals to create jobs for all workers, by pushing reforms to create the enabling environment for existing firms to grow, become more productive, or exit the market and tap on entrepreneurship potential for new firms to emerge and succeed or fail fast and cheap; and (ii) implement policies to support workers so they are prepared to take on the new jobs being created, by having the right skills, incentives and access to work, and being ready to move to places with the highest job creation potential.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-06) Iyer, Lakshmi ; Santos, IndhiraThis paper describes the key challenges to job creation in conflict-affected environments in South Asia. It uses household survey data since the early 2000s for Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to document the characteristics of labor markets in conflict-affected areas, exploiting the spatial and time variation in armed conflict within countries. The analysis finds that, across countries, labor markets look very different in conflict-affected areas when compared with non-conflict or low-conflict areas. Employment rates are higher in large part because women participate more in the labor market, but work tends to be more vulnerable, with more self-employment and unpaid family work. The authors show that these differences often pre-date the conflict but are also exacerbated by it. They also examine the constraints on the private sector activity in such areas, using firm surveys when possible. Finally, the paper reviews the existing literature and the policy experiences of several countries to draw some policy implications for job creation efforts in the conflict-affected areas of South Asia. It particularly highlights the role of the private sector and community initiatives, in conjunction with public policies, to improve the environment for successful job creation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-06) Koettl, Johannes ; Oral, Isil ; Santos, IndhiraDespite high unemployment in most Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) countries, people have not withdrawn from the labor market but continue to actively look for jobs. Unemployment increased significantly in ECA countries during the crisis, particularly among youth. However, young people are also the ones benefiting most from the recovery. Labor market recovery remained sluggish up to the third quarter of 2010. Many countries have seen only a slight recovery in unemployment rates, although output is recovering everywhere. Up to the third quarter of 2010, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) upturn in most ECA countries appeared to be driven by increases in productivity and hours worked; however, these are still below pre-crisis levels. This suggests that there is room in most countries for further increases in productivity and hours worked, which could delay the recovery in employment.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-11) Santos, Indhira ; Petroska-Beska, Violeta ; Carneiro, Pedro ; Eskreis-Winkler, Lauren ; Munoz Boudet, Ana Maria ; Berniell, Ines ; Krekel, Christian ; Arias, Omar ; Duckworth, AngelaThis paper studies whether a particular socio-emotional skill —grit (the ability to sustain effort and interest toward long-term goals)—can be cultivated and how this affects student learning. The paper implements, as a randomized controlled trial, a nationwide low-cost intervention designed to foster grit and self-regulation among sixth and seventh grade students in primary schools in North Macedonia (about 33,000 students across 350 schools). Students exposed to the intervention report improvements in self-regulation, in particular the perseverance-of-effort facet of grit, relative to students in a control condition. The impacts on students are larger when both students and teachers are exposed to the curriculum than when only students are treated. Among disadvantaged students, the study also finds positive impacts on grade point averages, with gains of up to 28 percent of a standard deviation one year post-treatment. However, the findings also point toward a potential downside: although the intervention made students more perseverant and industrious, there is some evidence that it may have reduced consistency in their interests over time.
Publication( 2011-09-01) Santos, Indhira ; Sharif, Iffath ; Rahman, Hossain Zillur ; Zaman, HassanThis paper uses household survey data collected in September-October 2009 on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 households in Bangladesh to examine the nature of shocks experienced by households over the preceding 12 months and the type of coping mechanisms that were adopted. The analysis finds that more than half the sample claimed to have faced a shock -- economic, health, climatic, or asset related -- over the previous year. Surprisingly, the non-poor face a larger share of these shocks compared with the poor. A closer look at this result shows that the non-poor report a significantly larger share of "asset-related" shocks, which is consistent with the fact that the poor have fewer assets to lose. Health-related shocks dominate and households appear to have coped with these shocks through savings and loans, help from friends, and depletion of assets. The results show that households, when faced with covariate shocks due to climatic reasons, are less able to cope. As would be expected, the poor are less able to cope with shocks compared with the non-poor; the poor are more likely to use coping mechanisms that could have negative welfare implications in the longer term, including the depletion of assets, reduction of essential consumption, and use of high-interest loans. Econometric analysis suggests that geographical location, socio-economic status, and access to microfinance all affect the ability to cope with shocks. Policy implications include the importance of developing safety nets that take into account the vulnerability to climate-related shocks and further developing the links between micro-finance and safety net programs.
Social Contracts for Development: Bargaining, Contention, and Social Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank and Paris: Agence française de développement, 2021-12-22) Cloutier, Mathieu ; Harborne, Bernard ; Isser, Deborah ; Santos, Indhira ; Watts, MichaelSub-Saharan Africa has achieved significant gains in reducing the levels of extreme poverty in recent decades, yet the region continues to experience challenges across the development indicators, including energy access, literacy, delivery of services and goods, and jobs skills, as well as low levels of foreign direct investment. Exacerbating the difficulties faced by many countries are the sequelae of conflict, such as internal displacement and refugee migration. Social Contracts for Development: Bargaining, Contention, and Social Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa builds on recent World Bank attention to the real-life social and political economy factors that underlie the power dynamic and determine the selection and implementation of policies. Applying a social contract approach to development policy, the authors provide a framework and proposals on how to measure such a framework to strengthen policy and operational engagements in the region. The key message is that Africa’s progress toward shared prosperity requires looking beyond technical policies to understand how the power dynamics and citizen-state relations shape the menu of implementable reforms. A social contract lens can help diagnose constraints, explain outbreaks of unrest, and identify opportunities for improving outcomes. Social contract assessments can leverage the research on the nexus of politics, power relations, and development outcomes, while bringing into focus the instruments that underpin state-society relations and foster citizen voice. Social contracts also speak directly to many contemporary development trends, such as the policy-implementation gap, the diagnostic of binding constraints to development, fragility and conflict, taxation and service delivery, and social protection. The authors argue that policies that reflect the demands and expectations of the people lead to more stable and equitable outcomes than those that do not. Their focus is on how social contracts are forged in the region, how they change and why, and how a better understanding of social contracts can inform reform efforts. The analysis includes the additional impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic on government-citizen relationships.
The Skills Balancing Act in Sub-Saharan Africa: Investing in Skills for Productivity, Inclusivity, and Adaptability(Washington, DC: World Bank and Agence française de développement, 2019-06-10) Arias, Omar ; Evans, David K. ; Santos, IndhiraSub-Saharan Africa has the youngest population of any region of the world, and that growing working-age population represents a major opportunity to reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity. But the region’s workforce is the least skilled in the world, constraining economic prospects. Despite economic growth, declining poverty, and investments in skills-building, too many students in too many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are not acquiring the foundational skills they need to thrive and prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy. This report examines the balancing act that individuals and countries face in making productive investments in both a wide range of skills – cognitive, socio-emotional, and technical – and a wide range of groups – young children through working adults – so that Sub-Saharan Africa will thrive.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016) Dávalos, María E ; Demarchi, Giorgia ; Santos, Indhira ; Kits, Barbara ; Oral, IsilDoes the data we traditionally use on poverty, inequality and labor markets capture the full picture? Qualitative evidence from 9 countries in Europe and Central Asia shows that people’s perceptions are not always well aligned with quantitative indicators. Increased polarization and the role of factors beyond people’s control, such as connections and social norms, are at the heart of this disconnect. This report discusses the implications of these findings for policy makers and the development community as we seek to better understand barriers to accessing jobs, reducing poverty and sharing prosperity.