The Future of Jobs in Developing Asia

Asia’s economic growth in the past half century has hinged on its “demographic dividend”—it is home to well over half of the world’s population and the majority of the world’s skilled and unskilled workers. Yet many parts of Asia are facing a job creation challenge, a malaise that has hit developed and developing economies alike.

Countries find themselves in different versions of structural unemployment. Some countries are faced with a large number of young graduates and a mismatch of their skills to the job market. At the same time, the sheer number of jobs needed to employ the large number of labor entrants is overwhelming, leaving graduates underutilized or underemployed. In some large developing economies, the demand for workers in growing manufacturing and service sectors is running up against workforces still stuck in largely informal and agricultural work. Technology has transformed the job market by shrinking the labor arbitrage that Asian economies once enjoyed and eliminating middle-class jobs that employed workers whose skills are undifferentiated and easily replaceable.

Developing Asia must find a way to address the job creation challenge, in order to prevent jobless growth, populations trapped in slow-growing or dying industries, and even youth unrest. Countries that succeed stand to benefit from their growing, largely young, and energetic working population.

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The Future of Jobs in Developing Asia (PDF)