Working Paper Series

Assessing the gender pay gap in Asia's garment sector
This paper presents the gender gap in the garment, textile and footwear industry in nine developing Asian economies - Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Earnings differentials between formal and informal employment in Thailand
The paper estimates the earnings gap between formal and informal employment in Thailand, using a sample of workers that includes both wage and self- employed workers.

Employment, wages and working conditions in Asia's garment sector: Finding new drivers of competitiveness
This paper presents regional trends and national estimates of exports, employment, wages, productivity and working time in the garment, textile and footwear industries in developing Asia and the Pacific based on official trade statistics and national labour force survey data. It finds that the region accounts for 60 per cent (US$601 billion) of global exports of garments, textiles and footwear. The industry employs more than 40 million Asian workers. However, labour productivity and wages remain low overall, and working time is often excessive. Applying standard Mincerian wage regressions, the paper presents empirical evidence on wage premiums and gender pay gaps in the industry, and discusses policy measures that can help sustain growth through new drivers of competitiveness.

Women in the labour market in China
This paper reviews the recent trends in women’s labour force participation in China. Although the rate is relatively high in China, it has declined in recent years, as has the employment to population ratio. Furthermore, there is a significant wage gap between women in and men, much of which remains “unexplained” when we carry out a decomposition analysis. To improve gender equality in the labour market, the paper points to four areas that require further attention from a policy perspective: (1) measures to promote equal access to employment for women and men; (2) creation of an enabling environment for workers with family responsibilities; (3) improved coverage of social security measures, especially for rural women; and (4) design of an appropriate retirement policy.

Macroeconomic policies for full and productive employment: Case studies of Thailand and Viet Nam
This study reviews the available evidence and uses available statistics to assess the extent to which macroeconomic management has helped or hindered the goal of attaining full and productive employment, with case studies on Vietnam and Thailand. On the basis of this assessment, the study suggests policy options for the developing countries in the region. Increasingly serious concerns about the benefits of focusing on a narrow definition of macroeconomic stability motivate this study. Of main concern to the study is the tendency over recent decades to equate policy reform with non-interventionist or "neutral" macro policy.

ASEAN Economic Community 2015: Enhancing competitiveness and employability through skill development
This paper examines the skills needs in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and how Member States can strengthen their skills and training systems to benefit from emerging opportunities of integration and boost competitiveness.

Maximizing the benefits of regional integration will necessitate leveraging the knowledge, skills and creativity of ASEAN’s labour force of 317 million women and men. This paper looks at statistical trends since 2005 regarding education and skills attainment, and technical and vocational education and training enrolment in ASEAN. It assesses the quality of education and vocational training and the readiness of ASEAN’s labour force, including young people making the school-to-work transition, to take advantage of new opportunities in a more integrated and dynamic region. The paper also examines the challenge of skills mismatch and skilled labour shortages in the region.

ASEAN Community 2015: Managing integration for better jobs and shared prosperity in the Philippines
The economic record of the Philippines since the Second World War has been patchy, making it one of the laggards in South-East Asia. The major reason for the Philippines trailing many of its neighbours in South-East Asia is its inability to participate extensively in regional production networks. Its manufacturing sector, therefore, has declined and employment in manufacturing has also stagnated. The inability to provide medium-skill, high-productivity jobs has much to do with the county’s relatively high poverty incidence. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 has the potential to attract more foreign direct investment to the Philippines. This will be an opportunity to revive the manufacturing sector, but only if there is bias towards small and medium-sized enterprise development, which will help overcome the sector’s low employment elasticity.

Growth, employment patterns and inequality in Asia: A case study of India
This paper argues that economic inequalities in India have been driven by employment patterns and changes in labour markets, which in turn have been affected by macroeconomic policies and processes as well as forms of social discrimination and exclusion. While many Asian economies have shown indications of rising inequality in recent decades, the Indian experience is particularly remarkable in the way inequalities have intertwined with the economic growth process.

Managing integration for better jobs and shared prosperity in the ASEAN Economic Community: The case of Thailand's automotive sector
This paper examines the socio-economic impact of regional integration through evidence-based analysis and projections for Thailand’s automotive industry. The paper discusses issues related to industrial and structural changes that will affect the labour market in Thailand after the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 takes effect. Thailand’s key macroeconomic variables in recent years indicate that there exists significant pressure on rising wage rates, tightness in the labour market and sluggish labour productivity.

Economic implications of ASEAN integration for Malaysia's labour market
This paper examines the implications of the formation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 on Malaysia’s labour market. The discussion centres on the nature of the structural change that Malaysia has experienced, especially since the 1980s, and how that has impacted on its labour market. Integration into ASEAN markets has obviously helped Malaysia enjoy the synergies of regional coordination.

Reaping the economic and social benefits of labour mobility: ASEAN 2015
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is moving towards closer economic integration among its Member States, including the free mobility of professionals and highly skilled workers. The freer flow of goods and capital will place path dependence, which encourages firms that already hire migrant workers to expand, in competition with wage convergence, which will reduce incentives for international labour migration. Most current AEC migrants are low skilled and most new migrants are likely to be low skilled. Governments need to acknowledge this reality and develop policies to liberalize and regularize the cross-border movements of labour. They cause mutual recognition agreements to promote the movement of professionals, and regulate the recruitment and employment of migrant workers, to ensure that migrant and local workers are treated equally. Demographic and economic realities suggest international labour migration within the AEC will increase making the implementation of the 2007 ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers imperative, to ensure that labour migration promotes cooperation rather than conflict between AEC Member States.

The impact of ASEAN economic integration on occupational outlooks and skills demand
Building on the sectoral output and employment impacts of the AEC derived from a separate computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, this paper develops an innovative occupational projections model to examine the projected shifts in occupational demand and in the occupational structure of the economy to determine potential skills mismatches that may ensue. The paper identifies the occupations that are likely to have the highest demand as ASEAN economic integration progresses in six ASEAN Member Countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam), with potential implications for the education, TVET and skills system in the countries.

How can ASEAN and Japan mutually benefit from ASEAN economic integration?
This paper reviews the evolution of the economic and political relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States and Japan since the 1970s, from the perspectives of trade in goods and services, foreign direct investment (FDI) and international labour movements. ASEAN economic integration is likely to yield mutual benefits for both ASEAN Member States and Japan.

Assessing the impact of ASEAN economic integration on labour markets
This study estimates the implications of the regional integration initiatives on ASEAN Member States using a cutting-edge computable general equilibrium model. In addition to gauging the effects on welfare, trade and economic structure, it considers the ramifications for labour markets. Using detailed data from the labour force surveys available for six ASEAN markets, the paper captures the effects of these initiatives on seven categories of labour at the occupational level. It also includes estimates of the distributional effects of these initiatives for labour relative to other factors (capital and land) and on gender.

Rural development and employment opportunities in Cambodia: How can a national employment policy contribute towards realization of decent work in rural areas?

This paper examines the on-going policy efforts to enhance productivity, employment opportunities, and incomes from work in the rural areas. At the same time, it argues that development of more productive sectors in manufacturing and services would be constrained, without addressing the seasonal shortage of labour in agriculture. The paper also argues that rural households consider subsistence farming as a safety net and a lifeline in the event of economic downturns.

Cambodia: Designing macroeconomic policies for an employment - friendly growth strategy
This paper authored by Muhammed Muqtada and Luyna Ung represents one of the background analyses. It argues for a proactive stance on macroeconomic policymaking, if Cambodia wishes to grow in a sustained and diversified manner toward full and productive employment for all. It notes that the current policy space is restricted, partly due to the additional conditionality that the defacto dollarization of the economy imposes. The paper suggests a possible nexus of mutually reinforcing macroeconomic and structural reforms, through examples of policy actions that could be taken in the spheres of monetary, fiscal, and exchange-rate policies.

Cross-border labour migration in Cambodia: Considerations for the national employment policy
This paper authored by Max Tunon and Khleang Rim represents one of the background analyses. It examines the on-going policy efforts to ensure informed, safe, and protected cross-border migration for Cambodian workers and suggests areas that the national employment policy can consider for further actions in Cambodia. It provides a review of existing legislative and institutional framework that governs the migration process. It highlights the Labour Migration Policy (2010) and its Action Plan as a key policy platform that has placed governance of migration onto the policy agenda of Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

Skills shortages and skills gaps in the Cambodian labour market: Evidence from employer skills needs survey
This paper by the National Employment Agency of the National Training Board in Cambodia represents one of the background analyses. It reports on the findings of the Employer Skills Needs Survey in 2012. This survey – the first of its kind and coverage in Cambodia – is aimed at understanding the needs of employers in finding and hiring workers. Such a knowledge base contributes to understanding how the productivity of an enterprise, as well as employment opportunities within, can be enhanced. It also contributes to understanding how young entrants to the labour market and jobseekers can improve their skills profile, so that they are able to access more productive employment opportunities.

Economic class and labour market inclusion: Poor and middle class workers in developing Asia and the Pacific
This paper examines quantitative trends and characteristics of the poor, near poor and middle class working population in developing Asia and the Pacific. With a special focus on Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam, it provides empirical evidence for policies that would help reduce working poverty, foster middle class jobs and promote inclusive labour markets.

Case studies of policy coherence initiatives in developing Asia
This paper highlights four national efforts towards greater coherence and coordination, ranging from more institutional cooperation in poverty reduction programmes to integrated macroeconomic and social protection policy responses to the global economic crisis. Each case study features lessons learned that other countries can consider when pursuing similar initiatives.

Decent work in Ahmedabad: An integrated approach
This paper examines the recent history, political economy and trends in urbanization in Ahmedabad and discusses a number of integrated policies and strategies for supporting sustainable urban development and decent work in regard to governance, social protection and quality employment creation, among others.

Decent work in Jakarta: An integrated approach
This paper analyzes trends in urbanization in Jakarta and details a number of policy initiatives being undertaken in the city on the promotion of decent jobs, skills upgrading, and social protection among others, with a view to supporting urbanization in Indonesia that fosters decent work.

Monetary policy and employment in developing Asia
This paper assesses the role and challenges of central banks in the Asia region in using monetary policy to promote productive employment and achieve positive labour market outcomes.

Building an Asia-Pacific youth employment coalition: Reviewing past policies and the way forward
This working paper addresses the importance of prioritizing youth employment policy in Asia and the Pacific. It provides regional youth policy and programme examples and underlines the need for a regional coalition in order to address the problem of youth struggles and frustrations in the labour market.

Coordinated macroeconomic, employment and social protection policies in Asia and the Pacific
This working paper examines the important role of coordinated economic, employment and social protection policies in supporting a more sustainable and balanced growth in the Asia and the Pacific region. It was prepared as one of the background papers of the Report of the Director-General to the 15th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting.

Demographic ageing and employment in India
This paper looks at the employment and unemployment situations of older persons in India.

Youth enterprise in Asia: Policies and programmes
This document draws on a wide range of practical examples of youth enterprise development policies and programmes within ASEAN. It examines the elements that, when combined, provide a comprehensive response to the needs and opportunities facing young people in business.

Decent work for older persons in Thailand
This paper brings to light the current and emerging issues concerning the promotion of decent work for older persons in Thailand.

The global economic crisis: Labour market impacts and policies for recovery in Asia
The paper provides an assessment of the economic and labour market impacts of the financial and economic crisis in Asia and the Pacific and reviews national policy responses to the crisis..

Labour market scenarios for the Asian Decent Work Decade in the Pacific Island countries
This paper presents key trends in the economies and labour markets of Pacific island countries and the main issues facing policy-makers in promoting decent and productive employment in these economies. It presents past trends and projections in population growth and in working age cohorts, in formal employment, in the labour force and labour force participation rates, and in national income, and identifies the economic activities that are most likely to provide growth in formal employment in the countries. It also looks at the role being played by migration and overseas employment of Pacific islanders.

The gender wage gap in Bangladesh
This study presents the first comprehensive estimates of the role that gender plays in determining hourly wage gaps between women and men in Bangladesh, by examining gender wage gaps across different industries, among workers with different levels of education and among workers operating across different sized establishments. The paper also provides the first quantitative estimates of the effects of industrial and occupational segregation on average wage rates for women and men in the country.

Employment challenge and strategies in India
The paper looks at the employment challenges faced by India within the framework of “ten core elements” identified by the Global Employment Agenda of the ILO. These elements relate to trade and investment, technological change, sustainable livelihoods, macro policy, entrepreneurship development, skills development, active labour market policies, social protection, conditions of work and poverty reduction.