Working Hard, Working Poor: A Global Journey

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9780199794645: Working Hard, Working Poor: A Global Journey
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More than three billion people, nearly half of humankind, live on less than two-and-a-half U.S. dollars per person per day. Studies have shown repeatedly that the main and often the sole asset of the poor is their labor. It follows that to understand global poverty one must understand labor markets and labor earnings in the developing world. Excellent books exist on ending world poverty that discuss in depth many important aspects of economic development but do not focus on employment and self-employment, work and non-work. Working Hard, Working Poor fills in where the other books leave off.

Issues of analyzing poverty and low earnings in the developing world are quite different from those in the developed world. The discourse in the developed world is about incentive effects of social welfare programs, cultures of poverty, single-parenthood, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, ill health, mental illness, domestic violence, and the like. But in the developing world, different issues predominate, such as own-account work and household enterprises, agricultural work, casual employment, and informal work. And some of the policy issues--stimulating economic growth, harnessing the energies of the private sector, increasing paid employment, and raising the returns to self-employment--take a different twist. This book shows how people in poverty work, what has been effective in helping the poor earn their way out of poverty, and how readers might help.

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About the Author:


Gary S. Fields is John P. Windmuller Professor of International and Comparative Labor and Professor of Economics at Cornell University. He has published more than 150 articles and books and is the recipient of numerous grants from international organizations including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Labor Organization, and others. Earlier in his career, he was named one of the 25 most widely-cited economists under the age of 40, and his book Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security (MIT Press) was designated an outstanding book of the year by Princeton University.

Review:


"Gary Fields shows us the lives of the poor in developing countries and explains why so many are condemned to a life of hardship, no matter how hard they work. He also distills some of what's worked around the world and shows that solutions are possible." --Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001


"Working Hard, Working Poor addresses the world's greatest economic problem. Even in this time of cell phones, international e-mail and globalization more generally, a full half of the world's population has less than $2.50 per day in purchasing power. There is not enough wage employment for those who want to work. Gary Fields, with great sensitivity, puts us in their shoes (insofar as they have them) and shows how we can increase and improve employment to alleviate their suffering. We all have a moral responsibility to read and to understand his message."--George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001


"The labor market plays a number of key roles in determining whether the development process in any country makes good use of its human capital and successfully reduces poverty and inequality. It is strange therefore that insufficient attention is paid to these labor market dynamics in contemporary development economics. Gary Fields' contribution could not be more timely. His lens is the labor market but he crisscrosses many of the main issues in development economics--such as growth and poverty reduction, globalization, trade versus aid and credit market failures--in order to distill key labor market issues and policy options facing any developing economy today."--Murray Leibbrandt, Professor of Economics and Director, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town


"This volume gives us in intelligent layman's language, the author's analytical and empirical findings accumulated over decades of persistent hard work. Gary Fields has gotten his hands dirty up to his elbows, but he never loses sight of the forest. The book should be of interest to a wide audience."--Gustav Ranis, Frank Altschul Professor Emeritus of International Economics, Yale University


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