The best jobs have benefits far beyond an income — especially in developing countries.

That’s according to a new World Bank report on jobs, which says that jobs are crucial for development and for lifting people out of poverty. The best jobs? Those that improve infrastructure, foster globalization, improve the environment or reduce poverty. Even better, the right kinds of jobs can spur a ripple effect that has positive implications for entire societies.

“Efficiency increases as workers get better at what they do, as more productive jobs appear, and as less productive ones disappear,” the report says. “Jobs are … more than a byproduct of economic growth. They are transformational.”

While that’s certainly true, the reality is much more complicated.

Certain development traps — geography, war and bad governance come to mind — make it difficult to escape poverty, and they slow (or stop) progress toward development.  The report stresses the importance of the private sector for creating jobs, but concedes that private corporations also need governments’ help and cooperation. But what happens in cases of bad or nonexistent government? Corporations are profit-oriented; it is often not in their best interest to invest resources in a country with corrupt leadership or poorly designed policies.

World Bank boss, Jim Yong Kim says governments “[can alleviate] the constraints that hinder the private sector from creating good jobs for development.”

Also true — but that tactic places the onus on governments. It will work just fine for countries with appropriate personnel and bureaucracy in place, but what about the poorest countries? The failed states? We also need to think about effective methods for creating income sources for people who fall outside the scope of the private sector’s interest or their government’s help.

Jobs are, after all, transformational.

Discussion

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