March 30th 2020 by Kirsten Sehnbruch
“We propose a multidimensional
approach for measuring the
quality of employment
The government of Chile is today (9 March) presenting the world’s first quality of employment index in conjunction with British Academy Global Professor and LSE Distinguished Policy Fellow Kirsten Sehnbruch.
The presentation will be accompanied by the announcement of a Ministerial Commission, charged with implementing the new measure in Chile. Professor Sehnbruch will advise this Commission alongside key stakeholders and experts from government, international development institutions and academia.
This is the first time a government is proposing to use a synthetic measure of employment quality in a way that will inform policy makers.
The index was developed by Professor Sehnbruch and her academic team for use in Latin America. It uses the dimensions income, employment stability and working conditions to inform policy makers about the state of their country’s labour market.
This data will complement traditional variables used by governments to monitor labour markets, such as wages, participation and unemployment rates. These variables alone are not always good indicators of labour market performance, especially in developing countries with large informal sectors.
This ground-breaking tool will use detailed data available from household and labour force surveys in Chile to identify clearly the most vulnerable workers and other groups of workers in the labour force.
This is one of the Chilean government’s policy responses to the explosive social protests that continue to unsettle the country since 18 October 2019.
This data will also allow for the analysis of inequalities between groups of workers such as men and women, age groups, regions, migrants or ethnic minorities. Such distributional differences are an important consideration in developing countries where the composition of labour markets is much more diverse and where the differences between groups can be considerable.
With Chile leading the way, international institutions and other developing countries have shown an interest in adopting such a measure. This could help them monitor progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 of providing decent work and economic growth.
Professor Sehnbruch is also calling on countries in the Global North to consider how such an index might be adopted to monitor the quality of employment, which is clearly an issue that fuels social protests in countries as different as France and Chile.
Commenting on the indicator, Professor Kirsten Sehnbruch said: “Governments ignore what they do not measure. Without a measure of what constitutes good quality employment, generating “good jobs” is just a rhetorical phrase rather than a specific policy goal towards which progress can be measured.”
Professor Sehnbruch’s work on the quality of employment in developing countries is supported by a British Academy Global Fellowship research grant.