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Has the World Bank improved its ‘Employing Workers’ indicator?

News, 18 August 2011

18 August 2011

There is a belief widely shared among policymakers that if arguments are supported by numbers on a page this makes the policy choice less political.

But in fact the design of statistical indicators is a highly politicised process in which different stakeholders struggle to ensure that the numbers support arguments in favour of their policy predilections rather than those of the opposition.

So it is with the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ (DB) indicators and in particular the highly controversial 'Employng Workers' indicator. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and global unions have long challenged the way the Bank has used it to promote business environments with low levels of labour protection, and their pressure led to a consultative process to redesign it.

But has it improved, or has the process lent unjustified legitimacy to a World Bank role in influencing labour standards? And where does this leave the ILO and its role? Public World's Conor Cradden reports.

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