Key Priorities

Labor Markets

Work is the poor's main source of earning. Understanding labor markets is essential to reduce poverty and ensure inclusive labor absorption and efficient development patterns. Improving labor market operations is also an important element of strategies to develop human capital, address gender discrimination, and enhance welfare and productivity.

Labor market interventions include:

  • Active labor market programs
    • direct employment generation - promoting small and medium enterprises, public works
    • labor exchanges or employment services - job brokerage, counseling - linking supply with demand for labor
    • skills development programs - training and retraining of labor
  • Passive labor market policies
    • unemployment insurance
    • income support
    • an appropriate legislative framework that strikes a balance between economic efficiency and labor protection including safe working conditions, minimum wages, social security contributions, and other labor standards

Cross-border labor migration is an increasingly important labor market issue for Asian countries. It is important to make sure that sufficient legal frameworks exist for protecting rights of migrant workers while reducing irregular migration. ADB addresses safe migration by reducing vulnerability to human trafficking risks among migrating population.

Social Insurance

Social insurance programs mitigate risks by providing income support in the event of illness, disability, work injury, maternity, unemployment, old age, and death.

Programs include:

  • unemployment insurance to deal with frictional or structural unemployment
  • work injury insurance to compensate workers for work-related injuries or diseases
  • disability and invalidity insurance, linked to old-age pensions, to cover for full or partial disability
  • sickness and health insurance to protect workers from diseases
  • maternity insurance to provide benefits to mothers during pregnancy and post delivery
  • old-age insurance to provide income support after retirement
  • life and survivor insurance to ensure that dependents are compensated for the loss of the breadwinner

Social Assistance

Social assistance and welfare services provide protection to society's most vulnerable groups, i.e., those with no other means of support such as single parent households, victims of natural disasters or civil conflict, handicapped people, or the destitute poor.

Social assistance interventions may include:

  • welfare and social services to highly vulnerable groups such as the physically or mentally disabled, orphans, or substance abusers
  • cash or in-kind transfers such as food stamps and family allowances
  • temporary subsidies such as life-line tariffs, housing subsidies, or support of lower prices of staple food in times of crisis