Journal Article

Employment creation programmes: the international experience

Published on 1 August 2006

The role of productive employment in reducing poverty is by now widely recognized. But the experience of many developing countries seems to indicate that in recent years, the rate of employment growth has been inadequate vis-a-vis the growth of labour force and that the amount of employment generated as a result of given output growth has been declining. Such situation naturally calls for special efforts and programmes to create employment. Apart from the general inadequacy of employment growth, many developing countries face emergencies of various kinds (e.g., severe droughts, floods and other natural disasters, sharp seasonal decline in labour demand, prolonged armed conflicts leading to disruptions in the economies and the labour markets, severe economic downturns, etc.) that warrant interventions in the in the labour market in the form of employment creation programmes. Whatever the factor, the developing countries, by now, have a large accumulated experience in this area, especially in the creation of wage employment through the application of labour-based approaches in the construction of infrastructure. While some programmes of job creation are aimed purely at providing safety nets to the poor, there are others which are more integrated into the development programmes of relevant countries and are designed not only as safety nets.

The present paper reviews the experience of employment creation programmes mentioned above. In undertaking the review, the paper focuses attention on several aspects, e.g., issues relating to the design, funding and implementation of the programmes, their impact on production, asset creation and the labour market, the sustainability of poverty reduction through such programmes, and gender considerations. Based on the review, the paper presents some concluding observations by way of lessons emerging from the experience. The countries that have been selected for the review include Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.


Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
International Labour Office (ILO)
Devereux, S and Solomon, C
Issues in Employment and Poverty Discussion Paper, issue 24


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