In this opinion series, part of our FutureWork campaign, we are asking key figures from the IZA World of Labor community to speculate on the future of the global labor economic landscape. The IZA World of Labor Subject Editor, David Robalino, gives his responses.
1. What do you see as the most significant trends for the world of work in the next five years?
Demographic trends: increases in participation rates and the size of the working-age populations in many low-income countries will increase exponentially the number of new entrants to the labor markets; in higher-income countries the opposite will happen, the labor force will shrink and threaten economic and productivity growth.
Migration: movements of human resources within and across countries will reshape labor markets and changes in information and communications technologies (ICTs). New ICTs will change the nature of new jobs and their compositions in terms of skills; workers who cannot adapt will suffer. At the same time, these technologies will open new opportunities in terms of job creation: (1) better matching between employers and workers; (2) new opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship; and (3) more efficient alternatives to expand the coverage of social protection systems to the informal sector.
2. What is the biggest policy challenge facing decision makers in your field and in your region?
Structural reforms are difficult in general. Be it improving the business environment and opening sectors to competition; reducing taxes on labor; or reforming labor codes and social insurance programs.
3. Why is more evidence-based debate and policy making needed?
Information is critical in the political system, both to select representatives and to assess changes in laws and regulations. Too often these choices are made without enough evidence about their potential impact.
4. What are the biggest barriers to policymakers adopting evidence-based decision making and how can they be overcome?
Public and private providers have vested interests in the programs they implement and services they offer. Rigorous impact evaluation might show that some of these programs are not having the necessary effect and therefore should be discontinued or reformed. This is not easy and policymakers might prefer not to be aware.
5. What are the biggest opportunities of wider adoption of evidence-based policy making?
Finding programs that work and can be scaled up can generate a significant demonstration effect. Evidence-based policy should not be seen as a condemnation of a given set of government initiatives but as a way to improve them.
© David A. Robalino
Look out for more opinions from IZA World of Labor experts throughout this week. Follow us on social media to keep up to date with our FutureWork campaign, and tweet your opinions to us @IZAWorldOfLabor.
We recognize that IZA World of Labor articles may prompt discussion and possibly controversy. Opinion pieces, such as the one above, capture ideas and debates concisely, and anchor them with real-world examples. Opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of the IZA.