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SDGAcademyX: Decent work and economic growth: Achieving SDG 8

In the pursuit of decent work and economic growth, it is essential to understand the drivers of informality and structural transformation, the movement of workers, and changes in inequality during economic development. This course shares research to support policymaking for achieving SDG 8.

6 weeks
3–6 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

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Starts Mar 1
Ends Aug 31

About this course

Skip About this course

The achievement of the SDGs—and SDG 8 in particular—requires economic activity to increase and often requires structural transformation. The process of structural transformation can take several forms—this affects the structure of the economy and the jobs available; it impacts who benefits from development and who gets left behind. This brings forth the developer’s dilemma, the concern that economic development inevitably leads to increased inequality. Where workers are situated on the job ladder, whether they are formal or informal workers, and whether there is opportunity to transition from informal to formal employment will also impact how much they will be able to benefit from the process of structural transformation. However, there are policy pathways that could support more equal and sustainable economic development.

This 6-week course provides an in-depth look at the latest UNU-WIDER research and shares insights that can support policymaking during the process of structural transformation.

This course is for:

  • Policy professionals who want to understand the policy interventions that can support sustainable and equitable economic development while creating opportunities for decent work.
  • Development practitioners interested in the different pathways available in developing economies for progress towards achieving SDG 8.
  • Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in economics, development, and other key concepts related to the SDGs.

At a glance

  • Institution: SDGAcademyX
  • Subject: Economics & Finance
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    Minimum undergraduate level of understanding of economics and development theory

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills:Economic Development, Economic Growth, Research, Economics

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • What new pathways of structural transformation are available
  • Why it’s time to rethink the informal economy
  • How to deal with the developer’s dilemma and avoid rising inequality
  • Where workers are on the job ladder, and how to transition workers to better jobs

**Module 1: Understanding structural transformation - Kunal Sen**

  • Chapter 1: An introduction to structural transformation: what it is, the features of structural transformation and new findings.

  • Chapter 2: Finding patterns in new data on the structural transformation of underdeveloped, developing and developed countries.

  • Chapter 3: An exploration of the different pathways of structural transformation

  • Chapter 4: Policy takeaway: Policy recommendations for countries in different stages of development.

Module 2: Informal employment, decent and productive work - Marty Chen

  • Chapter 1: An explanation of the terms & definitions related to informal employment and why policy makers should focus on informal workers.

  • Chapter 2: Discussing the formalization debate, using street vendors as an example.

  • Chapter 3: An exploration of how understanding informal work is critical to achieving sustainable development, and particularly decent work for all.

  • Chapter 4: Case study - Don't throw it all away: Waste pickers in Bogotá

Module 3: The developer’s dilemma - Kunal Sen and Andy Sumner

  • Chapter 1: An explanation of the developer's dilemma: the tradeoff between economic growth and equality and the implications of the inequality that occurs.

  • Chapter 2: Exploring types of structural transformation and the Kuznetsian tension.

  • Chapter 3: Examples of countries undergoing structural transformation in recent years within the structural transformation table.

  • Chapter 4: Exploring the developer's dilemma through specific country examples - looking at patterns in inequality and poverty in Indonesia and Thailand

  • Chapter 5: Key takeaways from the country examples - discussing the future of economic development and the developer's dilemma.

  • Chapter 6: Background on the developer’s dilemma - and the difference between the Kuznets and Lewis ways of looking at development and inequality.

Module 4: The job ladder - Gary Fields

  • Chapter 1: An explanation of the job ladder and the various types of informality within the new framework

  • Chapter 2: Exploring the findings and patterns from data on income and work status across Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Chapter 3: Policy considerations based on the new data and job ladder framework.

  • Chapter 4: Kunal Sen explains how policy options have to be region specific

Module 5: Informal work and COVID-19 - Mike Rogan

  • Chapter 1: How did Covid 19 affect informal workers?

  • Chapter 2: A close look at the data on which groups of people were most affected by the pandemic.

  • Chapter 3: Advice for a successful recovery that promotes decent work, with specific country examples.

  • Chapter 4: Case study - Reclaiming rights in Khayelitsha.

  • Chapter 5: Case study - Street sellers in Khayelitsha.

Module 6: Closing questions & key takeaways - Kunal Sen and Marty Chen

  • Chapter 1: Why study informal employment now?

  • Chapter 2: What is an example of informal employment?

  • Chapter 3: How do we help informal workers into the formal economy?

  • Chapter 4: What are dependent contractors?

  • Chapter 5: How do you move towards formality?

  • Chapter 6: Why should we prioritise the informal economy?

  • Chapter 7: What is an example of a win/win policy solution?

  • Chapter 8: How can we make policy regulation more accessible?

  • Chapter 9: Why should we care about informality?

  • Chapter 10: Is economic growth enough?

  • Chapter 11: What should policymakers take from this course?

  • Chapter 12: Can policy make a difference?

  • Chapter 13: Is there a reason for optimism?

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