The Changing Nature of Work -- Launch of the World Development Report 2019


Simeon Djankov, Simon Cox
Friday 19 October 2018 at 12:30 - 2:00 pm (Hong Kong time, GMT +8)
HKUST Business Central, 1501- 02, 15/F, Hong Kong Club Building, 3A Chater Road, Central

Download the World Development Report in Chinese here. 

Download the World Development Report in English here.  

Live Broadcast

Event Summary

In October 2018, HKUST IEMS hosted the launch of the 2019 World Development Report (WDR) titled “The Changing Nature of Work” at HKUST Business Central. The World Development Report is the World Bank's flagship analytical publication. Each year the Report provides in-depth analysis and policy recommendations on a topic of special relevance to less-developed and emerging market economies. We welcomed Simeon Djankov, Director of the WDR 2019, who explained how the nature of work is changing as a result of advances in technology today and unveiled the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index.

Djankov argued that technological progress is expanding job opportunities and reshaping the skills needed for work. The demand for less advanced skills that can be replaced by technology is declining. At the same time, the demand for advanced cognitive skills, socio-behavioral skills, and skill combinations associated with greater adaptability is rising. He argued that investing in human capital is the priority to make the most of this evolving economic opportunity. Governments should invest in human capital, particularly early childhood education, to develop high-order cognitive and socio-behavioral skills in addition to foundational skills. The report unveils the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index, which measures the amount of human capital that a child born in 2018 can expect to attain by age 18 in view of the risks of poor education and poor health that prevail in the country in which they were born. The index is designed to highlight how improvements in the current education and health outcomes shape the productivity of the next generation of workers.

Djankov argues that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life lay a lifelong foundation in terms of their brain development. The report finds that as many as 151 million children under 5 are stunted worldwide. Investments in early childhood, including in nutrition, health, protection, and education, lay strong foundations for the future acquisition of higher order cognitive and socio-behavioral skills that are important to the changing nature of work but cannot be acquired through schooling alone.

Governments should therefore look to enhance social protection in order to protect people, not jobs. 8 in 10 people in developing countries receive no social assistance, and 6 in 10 work informally without insurance. The report suggests a guaranteed social minimum and strengthened social insurance, complemented by reforms in labor market rules in some emerging economies.

About the Speaker

Simeon Djankov, director of the WDR 2019, was deputy prime minister and minister of finance of Bulgaria from 2009 to 2013. Prior to his cabinet appointment, Djankov was chief economist of the finance and private sector vice presidency of the World Bank. In his 15 years at the Bank, he worked on regional trade agreements in North Africa, enterprise restructuring and privatization in transition economies, corporate governance in East Asia, and regulatory reforms around the world. He is the founder of the World Bank's Doing Business project. He is author of Inside the Euro Crisis: An Eyewitness Account (2014) and principal author of the World Development Report 2002. He is also coeditor of The Great Rebirth: Lessons from the Victory of Capitalism over Communism (2014) and Europe’s Growth Challenge (2017). Djankov was previously director of the Financial Markets Group at the London School of Economics, rector of the New Economic School in Russia and a visiting lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He was chairman of the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2012–13. He obtained his doctorate in economics in 1997 from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

About the Panelists

Simon Cox is the Emerging Markets Editor at The Economist, based in Hong Kong. He has spent over ten years with the newspaper, including stints in London and Delhi. In 2014, he left journalism to become Managing Director and Asia-Pacific Investment Strategist for BNY Mellon, before returning to the paper in 2016. During his career at The Economist, Mr Cox has written a variety of special reports and white papers. He has explored the world’s arduous recovery from the global financial crisis (“The Long Climb”, 2009), China’s surprisingly resilient economy (“Pedalling Prosperity”, 2012), the technological ambitions of India and China (“High-tech Hopefuls”, 2007) and Korea’s social and geopolitical divisions (“Parallel Worlds”, 2013). In 2008, he edited “The Growth Report”, published by the Commission on Growth and Development, chaired by Nobel laureate Michael Spence. He was a contributor to the Oxford Companion to the Economics of China (OUP, 2014) and the originator of the “Li Keqiang index”, an unofficial proxy for China’s growth. He has contributed pieces to the FT’s Alphaville blog and Foreign Policy magazine on the economies of China, Japan and India. He has also been a frequent guest on television and radio, including CNBC, Bloomberg, the BBC and CNN. He studied at Cambridge, Harvard and the London School of Economics.

Sujata Visaria is Acting Director at HKUST IEMS and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and worked at Boston University for four years before moving to HKUST. Her research has studied how the enforcement of credit contracts affects micro-level outcomes in developing countries, the problems that small farmers face in marketing agricultural produce, and explores alternative ways of microcredit beneficiary selection that targets productive borrowers. She is an affiliate of the Bureau for the Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) and the Small and Medium Enterprise Initiative of Innovations for Poverty Action. She serves on the board of directors of the Asian Migrants Credit Union, the first and only savings and credit cooperative serving migrant workers in Hong Kong.


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