How can we make the Egyptian people employable?

Labor market is a valuable pillar to achieve economic and social progress and is key to alleviating poverty and promoting inclusion in Egypt. This is why labor market indicators are among the most timely and important measures of economic performance. The Economic Research Forum (ERF) recognizes the value and determines the need to comprehensively study the Egyptian Labor markets. Hence the ELMPS survey- The Egyptian Labor Market Panel Survey.

Timing of the survey results is key, after the January 25th revolution Egypt is no longer the same. Egyptians calling for their ‘right to information Access’, people need to know. ‘To complement two previous surveys of 1998 and 2006, ERF carried out a new round of the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey (ELMPS) in 2012. It thus marks the third round of a longitudinal survey that tracks the labor market and demographic characteristics of households and individuals interviewed in the two previous rounds.’ (ERF website)

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From a craftsman to a well-rounded strategic decision maker

Today, women and youth are ruling over the world and making their mark in various fields with their dedication and hard work to excel in their area of expertise, especially that the youth are the future, and one day will control the nation, but is this the case in Egypt? Well, a major area of concern in Egypt is the youth representing about 20% of Egypt’s total population, whereas rural youth account for 59% of Egypt’s total youth and representing 85% of Egypt’s poor youth (2009 Survey of Young People in Egypt – SYPE).  Further, female participation in the Egyptian labor market is among the lowest in the world since it is a highly gender-discriminated market, in which young women (aged 18 – 29) represent only 18.5% of the Egyptian workforce.

ENID is implementing a set of four highly integrated programs, each of which has the potential to impact on job creation and poverty reduction in both the medium and longer term. The first group of beneficiaries targeted by ENID programs is the youth and women segments of Upper Egypt society. We had the chance to interview Engineer Ayat Abdel Mooty, who is the Manager of Program A “Empowerment of Women and Youth”, during ENID’s first annual conference.

But what does “women empowerment” really stand for?

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Unemployment rate is a misleading indicator to the labor market, conventional or not?

As we know, the number of people at work is generally related to whether an economy is growing or not. In other words, unemployment can be thought of as a double-edged sword; when economic activity is high, more people are needed to produce the higher amount of goods and services. Thus, it is very important to measure different aspects of the labor market in order to get a better feel for the health of the economy. The unemployment rate is probably the best-known labor market measure and certainly one of the most widely quoted.

The last session of the ERF’s Conference “The Egyptian Labor Market in a Revolutionary Era: results from the 2012 survey (ELMPS)” was a panel discussion on the labor markets in Egypt; we had the chance to interview Ragui Assaad (University of Minnesota), who was one of the panelists.  He argues that the unemployment rate, while useful, does not take into account a number of important features of the labor market, for example, it doesn’t show how the economy is doing during economic crisis and its effect on the labor market.

But is the unemployment rate really the most accurate indicator to the health of the labor market?

While the unemployment rate may be considered as the most informative labor market indicator reflecting the general performance of the labor market and the economy as a whole, it does not say anything about the type of unemployment; whether it is cyclical; not having enough demand for labor to employ all those who are looking for work, or structural; a longer-lasting form of unemployment caused by fundamental shifts in an economy, such as workers’ lack of requisite job skills or inability to move out of their regions. Moreover, it does not take into consideration the informal sector which constitutes a large share of the Egyptian labor market.

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InfoLady: Empowering rural women at their door steps

Lack of access to information and government transparency are major blocks in the road of development and poverty alleviation in almost all emerging economies of the world. Women, especially in rural areas where accessibility to information is more acute, are impeded with poverty, illiteracy and disempowerment, which binds their ability to support themselves and their families.

Nadia Shams, Senior Assistant Director at Dnet, Bangladesh, presents her project; the “InfoLady” model. This model is specifically tailored to provide assistance to thousands of rural female entrepreneurs through a variety of door step services. The InfoLadies are currently operating in 19 districts in Bangladesh; with a a service package designed by Dnet, consisting of 80 different services under eight different categories, which include health, family planning, agriculture, employment, finance, marketing advice, legal and ICT.

InfoLadies also spread awareness for 6 different groups, namely farmers, labor, elderly, women, children, and adolescent girls. In addition to providing the InfoLadies with the necessary equipment, being associated with a local organization or NGO helps the InfoLadies to strengthen their customer base in the community through creating reputation credibility.

The InfoLady model is currently being scaled up nationally in Bangladesh and has great potential of being replicated in other countries as well; through adjusting it according to country-specific dimensions including the market, culture, infrastructure… etc.  Dnet plans to have 12,000 InfoLadies operating throughout Bangladesh by year 2017.

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Access to water and education gap in China

Water is vital for our survival. This is indeed an unquestionable fact. Experts predict that future conflicts will be over water:

“It is estimated that, by 2025, 4 billion people—half the world’s population at that time—will live under conditions of severe water stress, with conditions particularly severe in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.” (Source: World Bank)

Not only an increase in the awareness about water issues has been noticed, but also a better understanding of the existing links between access to water and sanitation. This probably explains why access to water and sanitation has been one of the most commonly discussed development issues lately.

But what about the other sectors? Would limited access to water hamper the access to other services?

Yasheng Maimaiti (Xinjiang University) argues that female participation in school education is limited when their water needs related to menstrual period are not met.

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To part-time or not to part-time? Chilean Case

To promote female labor force participation, part-time jobs are encouraged; they are seen as a way for women to balance paid work, care and chores activities. Evidence from developed countries links part-time jobs with lower hourly earnings. On the contrary, in Latin America, the same correlation are positive, suggesting a part-time premium. Andrea Bentancor (ComunidadMujer) in her paper ‘The Part-time Premium Enigma: An Assessment of the Chilean Case’ uses recently developed technique (identification through heteroskedasticity) that identifies the effect of working part-time on hourly earnings on Chilean data; she finds that such premium disappears and that women are penalised when they access to a formal/salaried part-time job. (See presentation by Andrea Bentancor)


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Addressing inequality and poverty in the Pacific Islands

By Danileen Kristel Parel, Supervising Research Specialist, Philippines Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Felipe F. Salvosa IIPublications Division Chief, Philippines Institute for Development studies

Participants during the GDN 14th Annual conference

Pacific Asian Participants from the GDN 14th Annual Development Conference, June 2013

Pacific Island countries are facing challenges in addressing low income economic growth with high levels of vulnerabilities resulting from the impact of global economic crises. The three presentations during this session at the 2013 GDN Annual Conference tackle the issues specific to inclusive growth, poverty and inequality in the Pacific Island Countries. Speakers argue that for inclusive growth to be achieved, barriers to the participation of the poor in economic activities should be removed. According to Neelesh Gounder, University of South Pacific, broader macroeconomic growth policies like trade liberalisation need to be considered to promote growth in a broader sense.

Experience from Fiji

Masilina Tuiloa Rotuivaqali, University of South Pacific focus on the importance of social protection in economic growth. He claims that by paying attention to social protection policies, increased productivity and social stability can be achieved. Prior to 2008, social policies that focus on vulnerable groups have not existed. Although some social policies have been implemented in Fiji in 2008, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu still remain to have very limited formal social protection in place. Thus, there is a need for an integrated social policy framework in all three countries, namely Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This framework should be at the grassroots level to include relevant vulnerable groups.

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Research Network on Inequality and Poverty

Combating poverty and inequality is on the top of priorities for many development organizations. This is why the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA), the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank came together to launch their joint initiative “Network on Inequality and Poverty”. The objective of the initiative is to advance the state of knowledge and expertise regarding the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion, as well as the whole range of policies, institutions and social structures that influence their dynamics, and finally the impact of public action.

As every year, an NIP meeting took place prior to the LACEA Annual Conference, on October 31st. Discussions were held on women’s participation in the labor market, the impact of fields of specialization on the man/woman’s position in the labor market and the possible correlation between a woman’s participation in the labor market and her earning.

According to Jaime Ruiz Tagle, Universidad de Chile, men and women interact based on the values they grew up on and the roles they see for each other. A conservative woman will commit to do her utmost in the household, participate in the labor market for shorter hours, and therefore will participate with less income in the household.

In this video, Virginia Robano, George Washington University, questions the possible correlation between working as a part-time and earnings. Educated females have the choice of working part-time or full time. According to her, two females with similar high education characteristics may opt for different options, which affects their respective earnings.

Hugo Rolando Ñopo, Inter-American Development Bank, explains that the decision men and women make regarding their respective fields of specialization affects their income once they join the labor market. The differences we see in the labor market are usually marked according to the decisions men and women make when choosing their field of specialization. In his view, one area that could be worked on today is the gender stereotyping in the labor market when it comes to skills and expertise.

Are water and sanitation policies in India gender responsive?

Is gender taken into consideration when budgeting, planning and implementing water and sanitation policies in India?

The paper “Gender Responsive Budget Analysis in Water and Sanitation: A Study of Two Resettlement Colonies (Jhuggi Jhopri Clusters) in Delhi” presented by Gyana Ranjan Panda (Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability) at the GDN 13th Annual Conference is an attempt to study the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in the field of urban water and sanitation in Delhi region, with a focus on two resettlement colonies (Bawana and Bhalaswa) as primary areas of inquiry. The paper aims to ascertain the hypothesis that budgeting and planning significantly and disproportionately impact the lives of women and girls.

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ABCDE 2011: Parallel session on work and gender equality in developing countries

Gender and employment are high on the international development research agenda, with the World Development Report of 2012, focussing on gender equality. This was also the topic of the ABCDE 2011 parallel session #13 dedicated to discuss “work and gender equality in developing countries”.

Rania Roushdy from the Population Council investigated the effects on women in the Egyptian labor market during the economic downturn. The paper provided new research evidence on the impact of the financial crisis on the female labor market. This is expected to help in shaping country-specific policies to undermine the adverse effect of the crisis.

Secondly, Rana Hendy, Researcher at the Economic Research Forum, presented her paper on “Marriage and labor market transitions: A structural dynamic model”. This research investigates the effect of marriage on labor market transitions and employment choices. The results show greater state dependence for the public than for the private sector over time. Marriage decreases the public employment probability by 18% and the private one by almost the double (30%).

Finally, Gaëlle FerrantParis School of Economics, explored the peer effect on the labor market participation in South Africa. The question is whether being surrounded by active or employed peers influences the probability to both be active and employed, and the wages. Results show the presence of peer effects on market choice and outcomes confirms that social interaction matter.

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