Using data envelopment analysis to quantify ILO objectives and identify policies conducive to decent work in a globalizing world
The International Labor Office, an arm of the UN based in Geneva, has as its goal the promotion of opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Since 1999, the ILO has conducted a series of studies of decent work. In 2001, the organization posed the global challenge of reducing the decent work deficit as measured by an employment gap, rights gap, a social protection gap, and a social dialogue gap. Using standard economic terms, "decent work" may be seen as an efficiency point along a generalized input-output function, dependent upon variables of both economic performance and economic and social policy. The decent work deficit of a given country (if any) is then obtained as the difference between an observed point and its projection on the efficiency frontier. Using data envelopment analysis (DEA), we fit a piecewise linear frontier to observations for 61 countries from all continents. Importantly, 27 of these countries lie on the decent work frontier; the remaining ones reveal conditions of decent work deficit. The possibilities of reducing such deficits by appropriate control of policy variables are discussed.
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