Publication: Diagnosing the Binding Constraints to Better Jobs: An Approach and Framework

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Osborne, Theresa
The persistent lack of good jobs that is, an inadequate level or quality of jobs, inefficient and/or inequitable jobs outcomes is a key economic issue in developing (and some developed) economies. Yet policy responses often lack an understanding of the causes. While the proximate drivers, such as low productivity growth, slow capital deepening, or a lack of firms and other organized economic actors, may share patterns, the policy roots and circumstances of these outcomes vary a great deal by country. Thus, making progress in a meaningful and lasting way requires, in the first instance, a clear understanding of the binding constraints which, if alleviated, would result in a substantial structural improvement to jobs outcomes. Binding constraints could arise in a host of policies and institutions, including possibly inadequate human capital and labor market policies but also in infrastructure, regulatory, financial, judicial and other areas. This paper provides a data-driven approach and framework for diagnosing the truly binding constraints to better jobs. The approach is to rule out broad categories of constraints using economic logic and data, and to utilize an array of empirical indicators to test whether remaining candidate constraints are binding. While this paper outlines an exhaustive approach, the style of thinking and techniques can also be applied selectively to fill analytical gaps and ensure that key issues are not left unaddressed.
Osborne, Theresa. 2023. Diagnosing the Binding Constraints to Better Jobs: An Approach and Framework. Jobs Guide; Issue 7. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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