Women are under-represented in wage and salaried employment in low- and lower-middle- income countries. For very poor women who lack the basic assets or tools needed to be self-employed, reasonably paid wage labor outside of the home is often a preferred job option. The key, however, is expanding access to decent, non-exploitative jobs that are fairly compensated.

This is easier said than done. Occupational sex segregation and gender discrimination in the labor market, evident in both developing and industrial labor markets, mean that women tend to be in lower-paid occupations, and they are often paid less than men within the same occupational category.

Summary of Lessons

Many of the programs that have been evaluated have been put in place by governments to cope with high unemployment rates in times of economic crises or transitions, called active labor market programs. The programs usually focus on job search assistance, skills training, internships with companies and wage subsidies, including job vouchers that incentivize the firm to hire a worker it otherwise might not. These programs increase employment rates for adult women, sometimes more so than for adult men, but they do not increase wage rates.

Childcare programs have been implemented specifically to increase the supply of female workers in the economy on the assumption that a lack of affordable childcare prevents women from entering the workforce. Access to childcare is proven to increase women’s wage employment and earnings; however childcare programs must be designed to ensure quality, affordability and cost effectiveness.

In Guatemala City and rural Colombia, increased availability of childcare led to positive effects on the nutrition and development of young children participating, as well as increases in female employment.

How Can Job Opportunities for Young People in Latin America be Improved?

Job training programs for vulnerable youth are the main response of Latin American governments to address the problem of inadequate employment opportunities for young people. Despite its importance, knowledge about these programs is scarce. This study contributes to filling this gap in the literature by presenting new evidence on the effectiveness of six of these programs operating or that were implemented in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic.

Retraining Programs in Russia and Romania: Impact Evaluation Study

Sustainable economic growth requires an effective re-training system that would facilitate the match of labor supply to the changing due to rapid technological progress labor demand. Moreover, the expected increased openness of the Russian economy due to WTO accession is likely to affect labor demand as well and could have adverse effects on employment. The degree of effectiveness of public re-training programs under operation would largely determine the adjustment costs of trade liberalization as well as the flexibility of the economy with respect to technological changes.

Active Labor Market Policies in Poland: Human Capital Enhancement, Stigmatization or Benefit Churning

This paper provides micro-econometric evidence on the effectiveness of Active Labor Market Policies (ALMP) in Poland. We sketch the theoretical framework of matching estimators as a substitute for randomization in labor market programs. Using retrospective data from the 18th wave of the Polish Labor Force Survey we implement a conditional difference-indifferences matching estimator of treatment effects. Treatment and control groups are matched over individual observable characteristics and pre-treatment labor market histories to minimize bias from unobserved heterogeneity.