Johansson de Silva, Sara

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Social protection, Labor economics, Inclusive growth
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Sara Johansson de Silva is an international expert and consultant whose research interests center on the role of jobs, skills, and social protection in promoting inclusive growth. She has been extensively involved in the World Bank's work on labor market and poverty issues in developing countries, especially in Africa and Eastern Europe, and also leads work on jobs, poverty and aid effectiveness for a wide variety of clients. Now based in Malmö, Sweden, she previously worked as an economist at the World Bank in Washington, DC, and the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Sara holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
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    Improving Skills Development in the Informal Sector : Strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013-06-18) Adams, Arvil V. ; Johansson de Silva, Sara ; Razmara, Setareh
    This book looks at the experience of skills development in five African countries, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania, that together account for one-third of the nearly 900 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study examines: (a) the employment characteristics of the informal sector, (b) its size and impact on poverty, (c) the profile of education and training in the informal and formal sectors and the links with employment and earnings, and (d) the skills development strategies of those working in the informal sector. It draws on household survey data in the five countries as well as institutional analyses of the many programs offering opportunities for skills development. This book defines the nonfarm informal sector as follows: (i) the self-employed (that is, those working on their own and with additional workers), (ii) the contributing family members, and (iii) the wage workers in small and household enterprises. Chapter two discusses the background for this definition. The empirical analysis of the five country cases shows that the nonfarm informal sector is a significant part of the economic landscape in these countries. The study is well anchored in a larger literature on the informal sector, and its findings are linked to and consistent with this literature. Its findings are therefore expected to be relevant to many other countries in the region, as well as other regions such as South and East Asia. The book aims to provide insights and messages for a wide audience concerned with skills development. It raises issues relevant to government policy makers, the donor community, and those responsible for labor market institutions that provide information, regulate, and support the intermediation of labor demand and supply, as well as for public and private skills providers, employers, children and their parents, new labor market entrants, and of course those already working in the informal sector.
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    Lessons Learned and Not Yet Learned from a Multicountry Initiative on Women's Economic Empowerment
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2014) Johansson de Silva, Sara ; Paci, Pierella ; Posadas, Josefina
    The Results-Based Initiatives (RBI), launched in 2007, were a pioneering attempt to provide comprehensive, coherent, and rigorous evidence on effective interventions to foster the economic empowerment of women. The RBI comprised five small pilots with built-in impact evaluation designed to identify what works best in promoting better outcomes for women as entrepreneurs, wage earners or farmers, under different country contexts. The program was an innovative experiment in an important policy area. While there is a clear rationale for policy interventions to help remove constraints to women’s economic empowerment, knowledge of what interventions work best in different settings remains limited. When the RBI were conceived, rigorous evidence in this area was close to nonexistent because no systematic impact evaluations had been carried out in developing countries. However, the RBI fell short of meeting several of their ambitious objectives. This study highlights lessons from the RBI with respect to both the impact of the interventions and dos and don’ts in the design and implementation of pilots. Regarding the impact on economic opportunities, the interventions did not generally increase women’s earnings, with the exception of the Peru pilot. However, women who received training generally appreciated the access to new information and felt their skills and their involvement in business associations and networks had increased. However, it would be wrong to conclude that these interventions were not effective. The lack of robust positive impact may be due to the evaluations being conducted too soon to show fully the long-term effects of the interventions, or to problems in the design, implementation, or measurement of pilot outcomes. In particular, there was a clear need of an “early warning system” to synchronize the corrections in the interventions with the design of the impact evaluation. The RBI were overambitious regarding what could be achieved with a limited budget and a short time frame.
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    Avoiding the Eye of the Storm : How to Deal Effectively with Job Crises
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-11) Johansson, Sara ; Revenga, Ana ; Paci, Pierella ; Rijkers, Bob
    Although economic crises are difficult to predict, their recurrence is a salient feature of emerging market economies. Nevertheless, many developing countries continue to lack an effective policy infrastructure that can mitigate the impacts of economic downturns on employment opportunities without affecting long-term growth prospects. This was painfully highlighted by the hasty reactions implemented by many countries in response to the global downturn of 2008-09, and by the ad hoc and reactive nature of many of the policies implemented. The weak ability of governments to systematically foresee, monitor, and offset adverse labor market impacts of economic downturn is of particular concern in developing countries where poverty incidence is high and labor is typically the only asset for the majority of the population. The main objectives of this note are: 1) to highlight the need for policies that limit earnings volatility; 2) to guide policy makers through the challenges inherent in crafting effective and comprehensive policy packages.
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    A Checklist to Avoid Pilot Failures : Lessons from a Set of Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiatives
    (Taylor and Francis, 2014-10-09) Johansson de Silva, Sara ; Paci, Pierella ; Posadas, Josefina
    Pilot programs have gained significance in donor-supported development interventions because of the growing emphasis on measuring impact. The Results-based initiatives (RBI) were conceived as pioneering pilots expected to acquire rigorous evidence on effective interventions to foster women’s economic empowerment. However, they fell short of providing clear or generalizable conclusions on women’s economic empowerment due to design and implementation problems. The RBI nevertheless offer important lessons on common traps in pilot design and implementation. This article synthesizes 10 lessons from the RBI as a checklist to avoid pilot failure, intended for practitioners in any area of development.
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    Expanding Job Opportunities in Ghana
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-10-20) Honorati, Maddalena ; Johansson de Silva, Sara
    Ghana was, until very recently, a success story in Africa, achieving high and sustained growth and impressive poverty reduction. However, Ghana is now facing major challenges in diversifying its economy, sustaining growth, and making it more inclusive. Most of the new jobs that have been created in the past decade have been in low-earning, low-productivity trade services. Macroeconomic instability, limited diversification and growing inequities in Ghana’s labor markets make it harder for the economy to create more jobs, and particularly, better jobs. Employment needs to expand in both urban areas, which will continue to grow rapidly, and rural areas, where poverty is still concentrated. The current fiscal and economic crisis is heightening the need for urgent reforms but limiting the room for maneuver and increasing pressure for a careful prioritization of policy actions. Going forward, Ghana will need to consider an integrated jobs strategy that addresses barriers to the business climate, deficiencies in skills, lack of competitiveness of job-creating sectors, problems with labor mobility, and the need for comprehensive labor market regulation. Ghana needs to diversify its economy through gains in productivity in sectors like agribusiness, transport, construction, energy, and information and communications technology (ICT) services. Productivity needs to be increased also in agriculture, in order to increase the earnings potential for the many poor who still work there. In particular, Ghana’s youth and women need help in connecting to these jobs, through relevant skills development and services that target gaps in information about job opportunities. Even with significant effort, most of Ghana’s population will continue to work in jobs characterized by low and fluctuating earnings for the foreseeable future, however, and they will need social safety nets that help them manage vulnerability to income shortfalls. More productive and inclusive jobs will help Ghana move to a second phase of structural transformation and develop into a modern middle-income economy.
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    Work for a Better Future in Armenia: An Analysis of Jobs Dynamics
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10) Honorati, Maddalena ; Johansson de Silva, Sara ; Millan, Natalia ; Kerschbaumer, Florentin
    This report aims to provide a comprehensive package of timely and relevant input to the Government’s initiatives. In doing so, it brings together into one coherent framework and story-line both new analysis and previous work undertaken for the World Bank’s policy dialogue – in particular the Armenia Systematic Country Diagnostic and Drivers of Dynamism on constraints to growth, international integration, and poverty reduction, and the Skills Towards Employment and Productivity (STEP) surveys on the demand and supply of skills for the Armenian labor market.2 New analysis includes an updated view of the labor supply situation, labor productivity developments, and the links with recent overall macro and global trends. Because of data limitations, the demand side of the jobs agenda remains insufficiently explored, including analysis of the characteristics of job creating firms, the drivers of firm level productivity, and the constraints to firm growth, and hence to job creation. Ongoing data collection initiatives will help close these gaps over the short-to-medium term.