Poor public transport can reduce employment in
the formal sector
Public transport infrastructure has not kept up
with the demands of growing populations in cities in developing countries.
Infrastructure provision has historically been biased against less affluent
areas, so access to formal jobs is often difficult and costly for a large
part of the lower-income population. As a result, low-income workers may be
discouraged from commuting to formal jobs, lack information on job
opportunities, and face discrimination. Through these channels, constrained
accessibility can result in higher rates of job informality. Reducing
informality can be a target for well-designed transport policies.
Excessive drinking is the main cause of high
male mortality rates, but the problem can be addressed
Eastern European countries, particularly former
Soviet Union economies, traditionally have the highest rates of alcohol
consumption in the world. Consequently, they also have some of the highest
male mortality rates in the world. Regulation can be effective in
significantly decreasing excessive drinking and its related negative
effects, such as low labor productivity and high rates of mortality.
Understanding the consequences of specific regulatory measures and what
tools should be used to combat excessive alcohol consumption is essential
for designing effective policies.
Harnessing the benefits of diversity is essential for
encouraging entrepreneurship in the transition region
Entrepreneurship is an important lever for spurring transition
in the economies of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. Utilizing
diversity, in terms of religion or gender, can positively affect entrepreneurial development.
Programs that encourage entrepreneurial initiatives (such as business start-ups) in culturally
diverse localities should rank high on the policy agenda. Prompting women to start a business,
along with female-friendly measures (including targeted legislation), can positively affect
entrepreneurial behaviour and the performance of existing enterprises.
Reducing under-reporting of salaries requires
In transition economies, a significant number of
companies reduce their tax and social contributions by paying their staff an
official salary, described in a registered formal employment agreement, and
an extra, undeclared “envelope wage,” via a verbal unwritten agreement. The
consequences include a loss of government income and a lack of fair play for
lawful companies. For employees, accepting under-reported wages reduces
their access to credit and their social protections. Addressing this issue
will help increase the quality of working conditions, strengthen trade
unions, and reduce unfair competition.
More important than defining and measuring informality is focusing on reducing its detrimental consequences
There are more informal workers than formal workers across the globe, and yet there remains confusion as to what makes workers or firms informal and how to measure the extent of it. Informal work and informal economic activities imply large efficiency and welfare losses, in terms of low productivity, low earnings, sub-standard working conditions, and lack of social insurance coverage. Rather than quibbling over definitions and measures of informality, it is crucial for policymakers to address these correlates of informality in order to mitigate the negative efficiency and welfare effects.
The evidence is mixed on whether and how
economic reforms benefit informal labor
The evidence is mixed on whether informal labor
in developing countries benefits from trade and labor market reforms.
Reforms lead to higher wages and improved employment conditions in the
informal sector in some cases, and to the opposite effect in others. At a
cross-country level, lifting trade protection boosts informal-sector
employment. The direction and size of the impacts on informal-sector
employment and wages are determined by capital mobility and the interactions
between trade and labor market reforms and public policies, such as
monitoring the formal sector. To guarantee best practice policymakers need
to take these interdependencies into account.
In post-Soviet countries, well-functioning
institutions are needed to foster productive entrepreneurial development and
Supportive institutional environments help build
the foundations for innovative and productive entrepreneurship. A few
post-Soviet countries have benefitted from international integration through
EU membership, which enabled the development of democracy and free market
principles. However, many post-Soviet economies continue to face high levels
of corruption, complex business regulations, weak rule of law and uncertain
property rights. For them, international integration can provide the needed
support to push through unpopular yet necessary stages of the reform
Low coverage and greater fragmentation can limit
the benefits of trade unions
Countries with strong industrial relations
institutions and well-established social dialogue often perform well in
terms of economic growth and social cohesion. The weak and fragmented
bargaining and low levels of union coverage in Central and Eastern Europe
(CEE) raise concerns about these countries’ potential to maintain
competitiveness, tackle demographic and macroeconomic challenges, and catch
up with Western European economic and social standards. There is evidence
that unions in CEE continue to protect their members and generate wage
premiums, despite their institutional weaknesses.
Understanding religiosity is crucial to informed
Most religions in transition economies were
marginalized by their former communist regimes. Today, some of these
countries are experiencing a revival of religiosity, while others are prone
to secularization. Religious norms affect individual decision making with
respect to human capital investment, economic reforms, marital stability,
employment, and other contexts. This implies that the interests of both
religious and non-religious communities may differ and must be taken into
account when designing and implementing economic policies, which is a
challenge for policymakers.
The benefits of trade regulation increase when workers are mobile
Economists have shown that international trade increases economic growth, with trade liberalization and integration having characterized the last 50 years. While trade can increase national welfare, recent estimates from both developed and developing countries show that labor market adjustment costs matter. Regulating trade, defined as adding or removing tariffs and other trade barriers, is not the best way to help lower-income workers who suffer from trade-induced losses. Policies that reduce adjustment costs may increase aggregate welfare more than regulating trade flows does.