Improving Labour Market Outcomes in the Pacific: Policy Challenges and Priorities

Publication | March 2018

Underemployment, informal work, gender disparities, and a large share of young people not in education, employment, or training characterize labour markets in the Pacific island countries.

Size and remoteness of Pacific Island countries have hindered economic growth and limited positive labour market outcomes. A very young and growing population is both an opportunity and a concern: Pacific Island countries stand to benefit from a demographic dividend, but labour markets are simply not producing enough jobs to accommodate all the young women and men entering the workforce each year.

Given the labour market challenges in the Pacific Islands, many workers have looked elsewhere for new opportunities. Emigration rates for skilled Pacific Islanders are among the world’s highest, leading to fears of a “brain drain” in many of the labour-sending countries. Meanwhile, many Pacific Islands are heavily reliant on foreign labour, driven in part by “skills shortages” at home. The challenge moving forward will be determining how to leverage the benefits of migration while mitigating its negative consequences. Looking ahead, the looming impacts of climate change and rapidly evolving technology also pose a major challenge to Pacific Island economies.

This report provides policy guidelines for improving labour market outcomes, focusing on five key areas: first, investing in underserved areas and tackling informality; second, strengthening labour market institutions to make growth more inclusive; third, adopting migration policy that works for all; fourth, addressing inequities between women and men while tackling youth unemployment; and lastly, preparing for the future of work in the Pacific, which will likely be shaped by climate change.


  • Executive Summary
  • Employment and Social Trends
    • Introduction
    • Macroeconomic developments
    • Labour market trends
    • Concluding remarks
    • Appendix
  • Labour Market Institutions in the Pacific
    • Introduction
    • Employment protection legislation (EPL)
    • Minimum wage
    • Labour organization
    • Policy considerations
    • Appendix
  • Public Employment Services: A Review of Fiji and Papua New Guinea
    • Introduction
    • The role of public employment services in the labour market
    • Examining existing public employment services in Fiji and Papua New Guinea
    • Policy considerations
  • Migration and Migration Policy in the Pacific Islands
    • Introduction
    • Migration trends
    • Migration policies in primary destination countries
    • Building toward migration policies for development
    • Appendix
  • The Future of Work in the Pacific
    • Introduction
    • How climate change affects Pacific labour markets
    • Automation's impacts on the Pacific
    • Policy considerations
  • Policies for Better Labour Market Outcomes
    • Introduction
    • Policy priorities

Additional Details

  • Climate change
  • Social development and protection
  • Migration, trafficking, and human mobility
  • Social protection - labor and employment
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • 184
  • 8.5 x 11
  • 978-92-2-129673-7 (print)
  • 978-92-2-129676-8 (electronic)

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