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Index of Volumes

VOLUME 142, NUMBER 2 2003/2


Special issue: Measuring decent work


Decent work: Concept and indicators

Dharam GHAI

This article explores the meaning of the decent work concept as applied in industrialized countries, developing countries and transition economies. After a brief discussion of the uses and limitations of indicators in these environments, the author considers more closely the suitability of indicators applied to the four major components of decent work: employment, social protection, workers' rights and social dialogue. In the process, he brings out the ILO's long-established and continuing concern with these issues, identifying relevant ILO instruments. Finally, he presents an index to measure decent work performance by 22 industrialized countries, and the results obtained.

Measuring decent work with statistical indicators

Richard ANKER, Igor CHERNYSHEV, Philippe EGGER, Farhad MEHRAN

and Joseph A. RITTER

"Opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity"; - from this basic definition, the authors derive ten characteristics of work that make a job decent. Within this framework, they identify 30 readily usable indicators with which to measure those characteristics and the conduciveness of the socio-economic environment. Other indicators, requiring preliminary statistical groundwork, are also suggested for future development. While stressing that the 30-indicator set is by no means intended to be definitive, the authors conclude with recommendations aimed at getting the systematic measurement of decent work under way.

Seven indicators to measure decent work: An international comparison


Building upon the contribution by Anker et al., this article investigates the practicability of a subset of seven indicators that measure decent work deficits (e.g. "low hourly"; "excessive hours of work"; "male-female gap in labour force participation"). Each indicator is presented with illustrative data and a discussion of what to look out for when using it for international comparison. Since a country's scores on the seven indicators can be added up to assess overall performance, the authors conclude with a tentative ranking of countries. But this, they warn, remains subject to the quality and comparability of national data.

A family of decent work indexes


Conceptualizing decent work in terms of socio-economic security, the authors present three sets of composite indexes with which to measure the occurrence of the requisite forms of security at the macro, meso and micro levels. At each of these three levels - country, enterprise, individual worker - sub-indexes measure "inputs", processes and actual outcomes, using selected indicators. The three sub-indexes - with greater weight typically given to the outcome indicators - are then normalized and added up to produce an overall index for each particular form of security. The security indexes can finally be combined to construct the Decent Work Index for each level.

Decent work and development policies


Welcoming the shift to outcomes which he perceives in the ILO's focus on decent work, the author explores the major issues thus raised. He discusses how to make the notion of decent work more precise in operational terms, and how to develop an integrated approach to economic and social policy in the decent work context, before formulating an empirical approach to assessing the effects of economic growth on decent work. Finally, he outlines a structure for the ILO's planned country reviews of progress towards decent work.

Decent work and human development

Iftikhar AHMED

How can the promotion of decent work contribute to human development and to economic growth? The author explores this central question by comparing the performance of 38 countries in respect of the UNDP's Human Development Index, of the index of decent work deficit developed by Bescond, Châtaignier and Mehran in this special issue, and of GDP per capita, presenting tentative rankings. These show, inter alia, that - surprisingly - countries without high incomes can nevertheless achieve lower levels of decent work deficit and, conversely, countries with high incomes do not automatically achieve lower levels thereof.

ISSN 1564-913X

Updated by MCN. Approved by IA . Last update: 16 January 2004