Seminar on Employment outcomes and inequality: Brazil, China and India


OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELSA) and OECD Development Centre (DEV) Joint Seminar

Employment and Inequality Outcomes:
New Evidence, Links and Policy Responses in Brazil, China and India

OECD Conference Centre, Paris, France
Wednesday, 8 April 2009



The creation of more and better jobs remains a key challenge all over the world, not least due to the increasing demand for jobs in many developing countries in the course of population growth and the expected global economic slowdown.
Brazil, China and India, three of the OECD’s “enhanced engagement countries”, offer interesting examples to study these phenomena. Over the past decade, all three countries have experienced major economic and social transformations. Greater integration into the world economy and structural reforms have pushed these countries into a higher growth path. While sustained economic growth has contributed to bringing extreme poverty down, high and often growing disparities in employment opportunities, coupled with a limited coverage of social protection systems, have been associated with persistently high (India), very high (Brazil) and, in some cases, rapidly widening (China) earnings and income inequalities.


Structure of the workshop

The structure of the seminar was as follows: It started with a presentation of the main trends in employment and its impact on poverty and inequality, mainly in middle income countries. The core of the seminar’s discussions then centred on the link between growth, employment outcomes and inequality in three of the OECD enhanced engagement countries: Brazil, China and India. The seminar ended with a discussion on the policy responses in times of economic crisis.


Some of the key questions that were discussed include:

  • What are the factors behind high and persistent informality in emerging economies?  Who are the most affected by informality by this situation, in particular in Brazil, China and India? What explains the persistence of informal employment and, in particular, what is the role of labour regulation as well as tax and social policies in these countries?
  • To what extent are inequality trends determined by developments in the labour market? In particular, do changes in the composition of employment between formal and informal work drive changes in market incomes? How have the links between economic growth, employment and the quality/productivity of jobs evolved over the past decade? To what extent have these links been influenced by greater integration of these countries into the world economy and technological change?
  • To what extent have labour market and social policies contributed to reducing (or increasing) inequalities? Are there lessons to be learned from the experiences in Brazil, China and India regarding labour and social policies? Regarding the labour market and the social policy measures, what are the more pressing priorities/needs to better deal with the consequences of the current economic slowdown?



Session One: Employment trends and their impact on poverty and inequality: Overview and new evidence

Chair: Mr. Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

Presentation: Mr. Johannes Jütting, OECD Development CentreIs Informal Normal? Towards More and Better Jobs


Ms. Martha Chen, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University: The Informal IS Normal

Mr. Marco López-Silva, Ministry for Social Development, Mexico


Session Two: Employment and inequality outcomes in India


Chair: Mr. Christophe Jaffrelot, Ceri, Sciences Po.

Presentation: Mr. Amitabh Kundu, Jawaharlal Nehru University: Povery and Inequality outcomes of economic growth in India: Focus on employment pattern during the period of structural adjustment

Discussant: Ms. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations


Session Three: Employment and inequality outcomes in China


Chair: Ms. Ana Revenga, Poverty Reduction and Development Effectiveness Group, World Bank

Presentation: Mr. Du Yang, Institute of Population and Labour Economics and Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences: Recent Trends in the Chinese Labor Market and their Impact on Income Inequality

Discussant: Mr. Zhong Zhao, Renmin University of China and IZA: Employment and Inequality Outcomes in China


Session Four: Employment and inequality outcomes in Brazil


Chair: Mr. Xavier Prats-Monne, European Commission, DG Employment

Presentation: Mr. Naercio Menezes Filho, University of Sao PauloEmployment and Inequality Outcomes in Brazil

Discussant: Mr. Armando Barrientos, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester: Employment, informality and poverty


Session Five: Policy responses in times of crisis

Chair: Mr. Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

Panel Discussion:

Ms. Ana Revenga (World Bank): Financial Crisis and the Developing Countries

Mr. Marco López-Silva (Ministry of Social Development, Mexico): Tackling the Economic Downturn: Mexican Strategy & Lessons Learned

Ms. Martha Chen (Harvard University): Global Recession and the Informal Economy: Economic Crisis at the “Bottom of the Pyramid"



For further information, please contact:


Mr. Stefano Scarpetta (

Ms. Elena Arnal  (

Ms. Claire Gibbons (

Development Centre

Mr. Johannes Jütting (

Mr. Juan De Laiglesia (

Ms. Estelle Loiseau (


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