International Seminar: Employment and Inequality Outcomes


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

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


Paris, France
Wednesday, 8 April 2009


(by invitation only)

BackgroundObjectivesStructureAdditional Material | Contact



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.


Workshop objectives

As part of the increased dialogue and cooperation between the OECD and the Enhanced Engagement countries, the purpose of this joint Seminar of the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) and the Development Centre (DEV) was to review the evolution of the quantity and quality of employment and its impact on poverty and inequality, with a specific focus on Brazil, China and India. Based on an in-depth assessment of labour market trends in each of these countries, the seminar discussed policy options towards more and better jobs.


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 centered 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 short wrap-up and concluding session.

Some of the key questions that were discussed included:

  • Is becoming “informal” a normal trend in the labour markets? Who are the most hit 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 amount of formal/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?


Additional Material


Presentations (all in PDF format)


Session 1: Employment trends and their impact on poverty and inequality: Overview and new evidence


Session 2: Employment and inequality outcomes in India


Session 3: Employment and inequality outcomes in China


Session 4: Employment and inequality outcomes in Brazil 


Session 5: Policy responses in times of the crisis



For more information, please contact Ms. Elena Arnal (; Tel: +33 (0)1 4524 9988) or Ms. Estelle Loiseau (; Tel. +33 (0)1 4524 9559).