This paper discusses the theoretical potential, current global opportunities and broad strategies for creation of 500 million new jobs within a decade. A theoretical understanding of employment generation as one dimension of the social development process challenges common misconceptions and supports the view that full employment is an achievable goal for the international community. A progressive expansion of human needs that generate additional employment opportunities coupled with accelerated growth in the productivity of material and non-material resources provide the essential foundation for full employment. Current international trends in demographics, technology and social organization are opening up opportunities that strongly favor accomplishment of this goal. The Summit will need to project a broad range of strategies to meet the needs of different nations, fields of activity and concerned organizations. Strategies should tap the entire gamut of employment opportunities from agri-business to information technology-enabled services, focusing on activities at the next higher phase of development appropriate to each geographic region and stratum of society. These strategies will achieve maximum results when employment is recognized as the economic equivalent of the right to vote in political democracy and it is guaranteed by all nations as a fundamental human right.
According to estimates by the International Labor Organization, the world labor force currently numbers approximately 3 billion people, out of which 23 to 30% are underemployed and about 140 million are fully unemployed. The severity and consistently high levels of youth unemployment worldwide are of special concern. The ILO estimates that there are about 60 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are presently in search of work but cannot find it.
While the focus of the YES initiative is on youth employment, this challenge has to be viewed as a subset of the wider issue of providing employment opportunities for all who seek them. Although strategies may target specific sections of the population, the process of employment generation is essentially the same for all ages and levels of the population. In reality it is difficult to segregate the problem of youth employment from that of employment in general, since labor markets do not recognize or respect any such distinctions. Although the Summit should naturally emphasize strategies that directly benefit youth employment, it is important to keep in mind that directly or indirectly employment generation for people at any level of the society and in any age group will open up greater opportunities for youth employment. Therefore, the summit should examine the issue of employment generation in general and then narrow down its focus to policies and strategies concentrating on the young.
The process of globalization is rapidly converting employment from a national into a global issue as well as a global opportunity. The positive contribution to the world economy of strong US economic growth, the negative impact of the East Asian financial crisis, and widespread public concern regarding the impact of World Trade Organization agreements are expressions of this fact. Demographic trends and technological developments in the industrialized world will generate new types of employment opportunities for developing countries, stimulating further growth of international migration to developed countries, remittances from workers overseas to developing countries, and out-locating service jobs made possible by the Internet. The opportunity to create 500 million jobs for youth in the coming decade is a global opportunity and will require a global perspective. Action may be primarily focused at the national level, but understanding must encompass changes taking place around the whole world.
What are the factors that contribute to the process of employment generation in society? What is the scope for magnifying or accelerating that process? What are the inherent limits that determine its maximum speed and level of accomplishment? What is the impact of technological development on the creation and destruction of employment opportunities? How do demographic factors influence employment? These and many similar questions lie at the root of the employment issue and need to be answered before any specific set of policy guidelines can be convincingly projected. The Summit needs to present a conceptual framework that positions the process of employment generation as a natural expression of social development and to identify the factors and forces that can hasten this process.
In order to provide a strong theoretical basis for practical action, this framework will need to challenge several traditional views of employment. The notion that technological development and industrialization constitute obstacles to creating sufficient jobs is contrary to fact but still widely accepted in theory. The idea that trade between industrialized and developing countries places inevitable limits on job creation among the wealthier nations of the world needs also to be challenged. So too, the framework must challenge the view that the number of jobs created by any society is a rigid function of fixed economic laws and that any effort to modify the outcome can only be done by creating inherent economic imbalances. It needs also to identify the policy instruments available for modifying or enhancing the process of employment generation.
The potential for increasing employment opportunities through innovative policy measures is dramatically illustrated by the accomplishments of the Netherlands during the past decade. Government, employers' organizations and trade unions have worked together to find creative ways to reduce unemployment. The effort included a review of existing policies to identify those that could be modified to promote employment. One agreement enabled the unions and employers to implement a policy of wage restraint as a trade-off for a progressive reduction in working hours. Another agreement negotiated between the unions, the employers and the government provided for an exchange of wage restraint against a decrease in taxes and social contributions. Close to a hundred instructions, policy statements and reports have been issued in follow-up to these agreements.
The result has been widely acclaimed as the "Dutch miracle". Throughout the 1990s, this cooperative effort enabled the country to increase economic growth and employment more rapidly than its European neighbors. A close examination of government policies led to the identification of policy changes that increased worker flexibility and encouraged part-time employment. As a result of these initiatives, the percentage of people working part-time has risen from 22% to 37% in ten years. Two thirds of the women and 15% of the men are now working part-time. Overall, the unemployment rate in the Netherlands has declined from 10% in 1994 to less than 4% in early 2000, compared to unemployment rates of 10% or higher in neighboring countries. The Dutch strategy has been equally successful in dealing with the problem of youth unemployment. In 1997, the unemployment rate among those in the 15-24 year age group was 28% in France compared to only 9.7% in the Netherlands.
A solution to the current problem of unemployment can be arrived at by viewing employment as a natural function of social development. The faster and further a society develops, the greater its capacity to generate employment opportunities for its members. Development occurs when society possesses unutilized resources that are harnessed to fulfill unmet social needs.
Economics was founded on the implicit, Newtonian-like assumptions that society consists of a limited number of human needs and a limited capacity, i.e. limited resources, to produce goods and services to fill those needs. There is now ample evidence to prove that neither of these assumptions is valid. Neither human needs nor human resources are finite.
Had there truly been limits to the capacity of society to generate new needs, a number of developed nations should by now have exhibited symptoms of satiety and stagnation. The opposite seems to be closer to the truth. Human needs exist in an ascending hierarchy that includes physical, vital or social, mental and spiritual dimensions. Humanity exhibits an inexhaustible appetite for physical security and comfort; social relationship and enjoyment; invention, acquisition of knowledge and creativity; and the quest for the ultimate truths and meaning of life and existence. Each successive level of social accomplishment leads to the emergence of new and higher needs and the creation of new employment opportunities.
While physical needs may be limited in their quantity, they are not subject to any limits to qualitative expansion. The number of calories consumed by a healthy individual is certainly subject to narrow limits, but the quality and variety of foods consumed is capable of unlimited variation. The same is true of other basic physical needs such as for housing, clothing, transportation, communication, etc. Thus, the prosperity of modern societies has multiplied rather than reduced the demand for physical products and services.
Social needs include the desire for human relationship, interaction, recreation, and enjoyment. In the measure basic physical needs are met, increasing human energy is channeled into the pursuit of social forms of fulfillment. Travel, tourism, sporting events, amusement, and entertainment are fields that are presently undergoing rapid expansion in most countries. The fulfillment of mental needs has only recently begun to constitute a major force for economic expansion. Educational products and services are proliferating at all levels of society in both developing and developed nations. Demand for information, news, facts, printed materials, scientific research, and technological innovation are growing exponentially. Thus, it is evident that there is no inherent limit to the capacity of society to spawn new needs that it seeks to fulfill and new employment opportunities to fill them.
Human needs may not be limited, but common sense tells us that the capacity of society to meet those needs is subject to severe limitations. Past experience and present constraints support the view that human productive capacity depends on the availability of resources and that the limited availability of resources constitute real limits to human development and employment generation.
An impartial assessment will make it evident that the constraints society faces today are lesser rather than greater than they have been in the past. Human development is a process of expanding rather than exhausting the potentials of a finite physical and social environment. Development continuously increases the range of human potential and pushes the ceiling of accomplishment ever higher above its present level.
Since the time of Malthus, the rapid expansion of human population, the spread of industrialization and urbanization have been cited as compelling proof of the limits to growth. But equally compelling facts can be cited that contradict this view. Over the past two centuries world population has grown more than seven-fold, yet living standards in most parts of the world have soared by an even greater multiple during this period. During the 20th Century world GDP at constant prices increased 19-fold, while world population grew nearly 4-fold. This has resulted in a near 5-fold growth of global per capita GDP since 1900. Between 1950 and 1990, average, global per capita income tripled, in spite of unprecedented population growth, and average real per capita consumption in developing countries doubled.
Historically, population growth has acted as a powerful stimulus to economic development. A graphic representation of the two shows that they have advanced according to an almost one-to-one progression. Short-term, rapid expansion of population has certainly placed a heavy burden on existing productive capacities and employment opportunities in many countries. But, as the rates of population growth decline and rates of development increase, these imbalances can be rectified.
The more serious issue is whether the earth's limited resources can support high levels of economic development for a global population that may reach nine billion before it levels off. Resources are inputs or factors for carrying out an activity effectively. They are of several types. Land, water, coal, oil, minerals, and power are physical resources. The social resources consist of the society's capacity to manage and direct complex systems and activities. Knowledge, information, technology and the capacity to organize are mental resources. The energy, skills and capacities of people are human resource.
Economics is very much concerned with the scarcity of resources. But when viewed from a wider perspective, it can be seen that while the quantity of some physical resources may be inherently limited, the notion of scarcity does not really apply to social, mental and human resources. Any of these non-physical resources may be limited in their immediate availability, but none are subject to inherent or permanent limits. Organizational capabilities can be increased over time. The horizons of knowledge, information and technology are continuously expanding. The human resource becomes progressively more capable and productive.
As a society develops to higher levels, non-material resources play an increasingly important role as factors of production. This principle is embodied in the concept of the Information Age, an era in which access to information has become a valuable input and precious resource for improving the quality of decisions and the productivity of activities. One characteristic of information is that it is not consumed by being distributed or utilized, thus it is inexhaustible. Access to information now enables investors to move financial resources around the world instantaneously in search of higher returns. The increasing contribution of higher, non-material resources helps explain how many societies continue to expand productivity on a limited physical resource base.
Increasing the input of higher resources also makes it possible to more efficiently utilize the available material resources. Technological resources have made it possible since 1980 to increase the world's proven and economically accessible oil reserves by 50%, while reducing the finding cost by nearly 75%. At the same time technology has reduced the materials and energy input required for a wide range of products. Land and water productivity are very low in many developing countries. Studies indicate that the earth's land resources are capable of producing sufficient food to support a population many times the current size. Cotton grown under irrigated conditions in India on average consumes 30 times as much water and five times as much land per unit of cotton produced than is required by leading cotton growers in California using the latest technology for crop management. Dutch agricultural scientists have recently demonstrated that it actually requires only 1.4 liters of water to grow a kilogram of vegetables, compared to more than 1000 liters commonly utilized by traditional cultivation practices. In a similar manner, organizational resources can increase the speed and efficiency with which every productive activity is carried out, thereby reducing costs and making them more affordable to the masses.
Every society has a vast reservoir of unutilized and underutilized resources in terms of knowledge, skill, technology, information, organization, management expertise, money and cultural values that can be harnessed to meet those needs. Indian citizens currently invest more than $6 billion of precious foreign exchange reserves annually to import gold as a form of private savings. The country now holds more than $200 billion in the form of gold that could be much more productively invested in activities that accelerate economic growth and employment. Instead of concerning itself with how to attract an additional $5 or 10 billion in foreign investment, government policies can be introduced to encourage productive investment of this huge resource which presently remains untapped.
Resources are a creation of the human mind. It is the application of human intelligence and inventiveness that converts any substance into a resource. A resource emerges when the mind evaluates a material in the context of an end use. As society develops, the application of mind continuously increases the productivity of materials, finding new applications for them and more efficient ways to utilize them. The more open and flexible the mind becomes in its outlook, the greater is its creative power. Primitive man found that sand was a useful resource for making bricks. Early craftsmen discovered that the application of heat could convert the same sand into glass. Several millenniums later, we have found that the same sand can be converted into fiber optic cables and silicon chips. Sand remains the same, but its value has been immeasurably enhanced by the application of mind.
Mind, the human being, is the ultimate resource that gives value to all other resources. The capacity of the human mind to acquire knowledge and devise improved technologies is for practical purposes unlimited. The concept that scarce resources impose ultimate limitations on human development needs to be reexamined from this perspective.
The real determinants of human development are human rather than material. Development is a function of human awareness, knowledge, openness to new ideas, human energy, willingness for innovation and risk-taking, capacity of society to organize itself more efficiently, eagerness to acquire new skills, readiness to shed out-moded ideas and behaviors in favor of more creative responses. Development is a function of peace, political and social freedoms, levels of education, levels of social organization, technological innovation and assimilation. At a more fundamental level it is a direct expression of the value the society places on the development of its individual members and on the capacity of those individuals to imagine, aspire and strive for what lies beyond their present level of accomplishment. Development is a function of human energy and attitudes.
There are no inherent limits to any of these resources, other than those imposed by our conceptions and our motivation. In the words of Harlan Cleveland, "The only real limits to human development are the limits to our imagination." There is no inherent limit to the capacity of society to increase its knowledge, skill, technology, information, organization, management expertise or social values, therefore there is no inherent limit to its capacity for development and employment generation.
Certainly, society does face real constraints today on its ability to create economic and employment opportunities for all people. But these constraints are not physical. They consist of individual and social attitudes, values and behaviors that can change. They do not lie beyond the reach of public policy and individual initiative. They are consequences of choices made by people in the past and present. Society has the power to alter or reverse these choices at any time in order to achieve more satisfactory results.
The view of human development as a half empty cup or a race half completed has to be discarded. Development is an expansive, self-generating, endless process that creates new needs as rapidly as it fulfills existing ones. Development is a process of creating new ways and styles of life.
At the turn of the 20th Century, electrification, the telephone and the automobile began to transform human society across the globe. Electricity has given rise to the demand for an infinite array of consumer appliances. The automobile has given impetus to retail businesses, manufacturing, hotels, restaurants, tourism and amusement. These innovations have been followed by radio and television entertainment, air travel, college education, the computer and most recently, the internet.
Each of these social innovations in the behavior of individuals and the organization of society creates new opportunities for employment. Is there any sense in which we can say that humanity has reached or is approaching the limits of this process? On the contrary, the further it advances, the greater the possibilities and opportunities it creates.
The growing social concern for those who are left out of the economic system has focused so much attention on the problem of unemployment that we have lost site of the global economy's phenomenal success in creating new jobs. UNDP has estimated that the global economy has made greater progress in eradicating poverty in the last five decades than it did in the previous five centuries. This period has been one not only of unprecedented economic growth and national prosperity but also one of unprecedented employment generation. Never before in history has society generated employment opportunities for so many people.
At the turn of the 20th Century, fear of unemployment loomed large in the rapidly industrializing USA. Rising levels of agricultural productivity freed up many from work on farms, yet the introduction of more and more sophisticated manufacturing technology threatened to progressively reduce alternative work opportunities in urban factories. Over the past 100 years, total employment in the USA has risen more than four-fold, from 29 million to over 130 million. This has occurred in spite of the drastic decline in farm employment from 40% to under 3% of the US workforce during this period. Today the employment rate, the percentage of the US population employed, is higher than at any time in the last century. Since 1950, women's participation in the US workforce has risen from 34% to 62%. Worldwide, the world has created more jobs in the last half century than in the previous 400 years.
Although the number of people globally employed in agriculture and manufacturing may be at an all-time high, the percentage of the world's workforce in these two sectors in gradually declining. Therefore, it is necessary to address the widespread misconception that employment growth during the last century has been primarily generated by manufacturing jobs and that the introduction of more automated manufacturing technologies is rapidly reducing global employment opportunities. It would be much more accurate to characterize the changing pattern of employment brought about by the process of industrialization as a shift from agriculture to services.
In the USA, the percentage of the workforce engaged in manufacturing today is roughly the same as it was in 1850, before the industrial revolution moved into high gear. At its peak in the 1920s and again in the 1970s, a maximum of 23% of the total US workforce was engaged in manufacturing, compared with about 16% today. Far more dramatic has been the growth of the service sector, which replaced agriculture as the largest source of employment around 1900 and now provides nearly 80% of jobs in the USA. From 1975-1996, the total number of jobs in agriculture and manufacturing remained virtually constant, while the total labor force grew by 61%.
Worldwide, the pattern is similar. Between 1980 and 1990, China's service sector grew by 13% per annum. Although development is associated in most people's minds with industrialization, the greatest scope for employment generation has been and will continue to be in the service sector. As of 1990, only 25% of jobs in developing countries were in the service sector compared to 67% in developed nations. This fact has profound implications. The growth of the global service economy is still in its infancy.
The service sector is often derided as a source of low wage, low skill jobs, but the same accusation is equally or more applicable to the physical drudgery, low skill requirements and pitiful wages still often paid by factory sweatshops of all descriptions in every country. Some of the fastest sectors of the service economy include highly skilled, well-paid software engineers and technical support staff, financial analysts, scientific researchers, marketers, logistical experts, educators, and medical practitioners. In fact, even within the manufacturing sector, there has been a marked shift in employment patterns, with fewer people actually performing manual tasks, while many more are performing service activities in engineering, programming, maintenance of sophisticated technology, sales and customer support.
The rapid expansion of services should be recognized and heralded as a social advance far more significant and beneficial than the expansion of manufacturing that has enabled countless millions to advance economically from manual labor in subsistence agriculture to mechanized work in modern factories. The advance from land-based agriculture to machine-based manufacturing resulted in an exponential growth in human productivity, employment opportunities, incomes and living standards. Services represent the next natural step in a progression from economic activities based on humanity's relationship with land and machines, to economic activities based on relationships between people. The service sector is not limited by the physical and technological constraints that impose stiff barriers to both supply and demand in agriculture and manufacturing. In services, humanity itself becomes the resource, the technology and the field for productive activity. Work, employment, money, and wealth are all products of human energy expressed in productive activity. In agriculture, human energy relates to the land. In industry, it relates to mechanical processes developed by mind. In services, that human energy relates to the energy in other people, which is virtually unlimited. As the evolution from agriculture to manufacturing resulted in a vast improvement in productivity and national prosperity, the further evolution to services has and will continue to generate higher levels of productivity, higher living standards and more abundance employment opportunities in every society.
Education is a social service with immense potential for employment generation. Employment in education soared during the 20th Century, but has yet to approach a saturation point in any country. In the USA, the number of teachers has grown five-fold since 1900. Total employment is non-college teaching positions is projected to increase by 29% between 1994 and 2005, 18% for college teaching positions. Much of this growth is driven by the demand for qualitative improvement in education. From 1960 to 1995, the student teacher ratio has dropped from over 26.4 to 17. This compares to ratios as high as 60 or 70 in many developing countries. At the same time the school age population in most developing countries continues to swell due to both population growth and higher enrollment levels. Reducing the teacher student ratio to US levels in these countries could generate 50 to 100 million additional teaching positions worldwide. Surging demand for higher education in developing countries will create millions of additional employment opportunities for college level teaching staff.
Modern medical treatment and health care, a luxury now available to less than a quarter of humanity, are likely to be among the fastest growing fields of activity worldwide in the coming decades. The total number of people employed by the US health care industry nearly doubled between 1980 and 1995, from 5.3 million to 9.3 million workers, and the ratio of nurses to population doubled over the past 25 quarter century. The ratio of physicians to population in Western Europe is roughly 10 times higher than in India, 40 times higher than in Philippines and 50 times higher than in Bangladesh. To raise the density of health care workers in developing countries up to the average level now pertaining among wealthy nations could create as many as of 20 million additional jobs in the health care industry alone. Note that such an accomplishment in both education and health services can be accomplished almost entirely by developing human resources which these countries have in such great abundance.
Nor have the developed countries reached the saturation point for health care facilities. Demographic trends will continue to increase employment in this industry. In the USA, 12.5% of the population is over 65 years of age. By year 2020, the elderly will account for 16.5% of the population, rising further to 20% by 2030. Average life expectancy, now about 79 years for women and 73 for men, will climb to 84 and 80. The number of elderly people over 85 will quadruple, from roughly four million to more than 18 million. Their demand for assisted care lodging, medical services and recreation will be immense, and they will have the financial ability to pay for it. The enormous aging baby boom population will put considerable political pressure on government to meet its health care needs.
Tourism and the hospitality industry are already among the largest sources of global employment, yet the scope for further expansion is enormous. Affluent societies full of retirees will create an enormous number of new jobs in fields that relate to leisure, entertainment and travel. These jobs include-hotel, restaurant, resort and club management; travel planning and tour guiding; airline operations; film and music production; golf course design, development and management; live entertainment; and professional sports management. In the USA employment in entertainment and recreation industries has tripled since 1975. Employment in retail food service establishments grew by 50% during the period 1980-1995.
Establishing the net effect of information technology on aggregate employment is difficult for one primary reason: IT is both labor-creating and labor-saving. Although the impact of computerization on employment is complex, empirical evidence indicates that it acts as a catalyst for economic growth and employment that far exceeds any direct elimination of jobs that may result from substitution of machines for people. Computerization acts simultaneously in multiple directions. It increases the productivity of labor, thereby reducing production and delivery costs, which in term translates into lower prices for consumers and higher demand for goods and services. It increases the availability and accuracy of information available to businesses, enabling them to make better, more timely decisions, which again reduces costs, increases profits, and stimulates growth. It also increases the convenience and productivity of consumers by reducing the time required to perform routine tasks such as banking, allowing more time for leisure activities that create employment demand in other industries. While computerization may eliminate direct jobs in the factory, bank, supermarket or travel agency, it also reduces transactions costs and increases the volume of transactions of air travel, tourism, stock market investment, home sales, job placement, etc. A study by the National Research Council in the USA concluded that information technology acts as a technological precondition for growth in many service industries.
The relationship between growth of the service industry and computerization is especially noteworthy. From 1959 to 1994, the service sector grew from 49 to 62 percent of U.S. GDP. The expansion of the service sector has been driven entirely by industries that are often classified as "knowledge" industries -finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE)-as well as a number of professional services, such as health and education. The share of GDP accounted for by wholesale and retail trade actually declined from 1959 to 1994, while personal services and transportation and utilities remained essentially unchanged. In contrast, FIRE's share of GDP grew by 4.8 percentage points, while that of professional services increased by 7.1 percentage points. Employment data reflect the same structural shift in the economy as GDP data. From 1960 to 1990, employment in the service sector grew from one-half to two-thirds of total U.S. employment, with growth strongest in producer services (FIRE and professional services) and social services, particularly health care.
In formulating policies and strategies to accelerate development and employment generation, emphasis should be placed on increasing the availability and productivity of the full gamut of resources at our disposal. Today society has at its disposal several very powerful levers for improving the utilization of social resources
Since 1950, country after country has been introducing organizational systems and structures to support modern business and international trade, such as business directories, franchising, lease purchase financing for industrial and consumer products, courier delivery services, credit rating and collection agencies, industrial estates, free trade zones, credit cards, ATM banking services, cellular and pager communication systems, and most recently, a completely new range of Internet services. Each of these organizational innovations increases the range, scope, quality, convenience, productivity or efficiency with which the available social energies can be utilized for productive purposes. The list of proven organizational resources is enormous and constantly expanding. The organizational gap between the most developed and least developed nations is even wider than the technology gap, yet the cost and time required for widespread organizational innovation is often much lower and more far reaching in its benefits. Strategies should focus on accelerating the transfer of organizational technology within and between countries. These are but a few of the major levers available for accelerating the development process.
Nor is the possibility of full employment limited to theoretical speculations. During the 1950s and 1960s the leading industrialized countries of the world not only achieved full employment but even exceeded it, creating strong demand for import of workers from abroad. In Germany and France, nearly 10% of the labor force consisted of foreign workers. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Newly Industrializing Economies (NIEs) - Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan-China - achieved full employment and experienced acute labor shortages. Prior to the Asian financial crisis which began in mid-1997, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia were rapidly approaching a similar status. That crisis did set back economic growth and employment in all these countries, yet their faster than expected recovery and return to high growth rates suggests that the earlier performance can be repeated.
While the Chinese economy still remains very far from full employment, its phenomenal progress on employment over the past two decades is an index of what other countries can strive to achieve. According to ILO estimates, from 1987 to 1997 China created more than 160 million additional employment opportunities.
The second major goal of the Summit should be to generate awareness of the factors that make the present decade highly conducive for an initiative to eradicate youth unemployment.
Hundreds of millions of new jobs can be created by commercialization of agriculture and expansion of agri-businesses in developing countries. At a time when employment in agriculture has declined to just 7% of the workforce in developed nations compared to 61% in developing countries, many will question the wisdom of trying to create more jobs in this sector. But a clearer understanding of the stages of development that most economically-advanced countries have passed through in the process of industrializing and modernizing will justify an agriculture-led strategy.
In his study to determine why the Industrial Revolution took off in England before it occurred in other European countries, Nobel laureate Arthur Lewis observed that industrialization in England was the result of a prior revolution in British agriculture. Rising levels of farm productivity and farm income generated surplus food and rural purchasing power. This freed up a large portion of the rural workforce to leave employment in agriculture. Increasing rural wealth also created greater demand for manufactured goods.
The same process occurred during the mid 20th Century in the more advanced developing nations of Asia such as Taiwan and South Korea. Dramatic increases in agricultural productivity led to rising incomes and investment in manufacturing. In regions of India where the Green Revolution has been most successful, agricultural development has been followed by rapid industrial development as well.
Many developing countries have not yet completed the agricultural revolution that forms the basis for rapid industrialization. Even in countries such as India, which has quadrupled food grain production since 1965, development of untapped agricultural potential can be a powerful engine for employment generation. A study entitled Prosperity 2000 by the International Commission on Peace and Food estimated that India could generate 100 million additional jobs within 10 years by a full exploitation of its agricultural potential. The key to employment generation through agriculture is the multiplier effect that higher farm production and income have on this and other sectors of the economy. The Commission found that the 100 million jobs can be created by a combination of increased on-farm employment, employment in down-stream agro-industrial and business activities, and employment in other sectors of the economy created by the increased purchasing power of farmers. The relatively low nutritional levels in countries such as India are another key element of the strategy. The higher rural purchasing power generated by raising farm production, employment and incomes creates its own market for much of the additional crops and processed goods produced.
The agricultural potential in developing countries has several major components. First, there is the potential for raising agricultural productivity. Even after India's highly successful Green Revolution has popularized hybrid wheat, rice and maize production, yields of most major crops are still far below world averages, let alone the yields achieved in countries with the highest productivity. Table 1 compares the average yield on a range of major crops in the USA and India. Yields on some crops comparable to those in the USA have already been achieved by private farmers under Indian conditions, but remain isolated achievements. Improving cultivation practices to raise crop yields in India's labor intensive farm economy will result in a nearly proportionate increase in labor input for planting, harvesting, processing and transport of crops. It will also increase demand for labor for processing, handling and distribution.
Table 1: Crop Yields in USA and India (kg per hectare)
Higher employment can also be created in agriculture by a shift from traditional food crops such as wheat and rice to commercial crops such as sugar, cotton, vegetables, and flowers, which require higher labor input and generate far higher incomes per unit of land cultivated, and by promotion of downstream processing industries, agri-service and food distribution businesses linked to these commercial crops. Cotton, for example, creates employment in spinning mills, textile factories, and garment production units.
A study of Pune District in Maharashtra, India by the Agricultural Finance Corporation strongly supports the Commission's findings. The study concluded that an additional 750,000 jobs could be created in this single district by an agriculture-led strategy. If extrapolated over India's nearly 400 districts, the total employment potential would far exceed ICPF's estimate of 100 million jobs. Since 1990, many of the ICPF strategies have been successfully implemented in Pune. The area under horticulture crops in the district has been expanded from 125,000 to 1.5 million acres, which is 20% of the increase projected in ICPF's report for the whole of India.
Additional employment generation in agriculture can also be a highly effective strategy in many other developing countries with relatively low crop productivity and agro-industrial development. If widely applied, an agriculture-led growth strategy could generate hundreds of millions of additional jobs in developing countries on the farm and in agri-businesses and in other sectors of the economy that benefit from higher rural purchasing power.
Although concern over rising levels of unemployment loomed large in the minds of Western economists through much of the 1990s, demographic trends indicate that in future developed nations will face a shortage of labor, rather than a shortage of job opportunities. Worldwide the rate of population growth is ebbing. Although by the year 2050, there likely will be 9 billion people on the planet, demographers predict the population will level off at this point, perhaps even decline. In the last few years, worldwide population growth rates and fertility have dropped faster than anyone projected.
For all intents and purposes, the developed world has stopped growing. In North America, Europe and Japan birthrates have been steadily declining for the past decade; in some countries, birthrates are too low to even sustain current population size. Family size in Mexico has dropped from seven children to just 2.5, below the U.S. average of 2.71. In Italy and Spain, women now average 1.17 babies. In 1997, Italy became the first nation in history to have more people over the age of 60 than under age 20. The Italian population is actually shrinking. Greece, Spain, France and Germany will soon face the same situation. Today, the fertility rate exceeds the replacement rate in only three of the 23 richest countries in the world.
A UN study released in March 2000 estimates that the 15 nation European Community would have to accept 150 million new immigrants over the next 25 years in order to maintain present levels of working and tax-paying population. Though immigration on such a massive scale is unlikely, this trend will soon eradicate unemployment within developed nations and generate increasing opportunities for employment growth among developing nations.
Despite surging immigration, the labor force in the United States, Europe and Canada is not growing quickly enough to meet demand for workers, a trend line that will continue well into the new millennium. As US baby boomers retire or reduce their work hours, there will not be enough younger workers to replace them. By 2013, labor-force growth in the United States will be zero. These demographic trends are already resulting in labor shortages in a number of developed countries.
The current concern in Japan regarding rising levels of unemployment is one of the ironies of the global employment context resulting from a very temporary, short term restructuring of the Japanese political and economic system that is now underway. In the mid-term, government projections indicate that Japan will face acute labor shortages. As a consequence of an aging population and declining birth rate, the United Nations estimates that Japan would need to admit 600,000 immigrants annually for the next 50 years in order to maintain the size of its working population at the 1995 level. In the absence of increased immigration, the size of the workforce would decline from the current level of 127 million to 105 million by 2050, placing an inordinate burden on a shrinking workforce to support an increasing population of retirees. The aging of the Japanese population will create increasing opportunities for younger nations to create jobs to fill this shortage of workers.
Preparatory to the Summit, research should be undertaken to quantify the impact of demographic changes on the complexion of the global workforce over the next half century. This will help highlight the underlying social forces that will generate new opportunities in the coming decades.
In the early 1990s, there was a widespread belief in most industrial nations that the increased deployment of technology would lead to a prolonged and, perhaps, permanent era of jobless growth, an increasing shortage of employment opportunities, and even what was metaphorically termed by one author "the end of work". In retrospect, it is clear that the rise in unemployment rates at that time was the temporary result of a combination of transient factors. The end of the Cold War, which led to a 35% reduction in global military spending, brought on an economic recession as large, defense-related industries struggled to refocus their businesses on civilian markets. This was coupled with a large increase in the number of women entering the workforce, higher rates of immigration from developing countries, and downsizing of major corporations.
There is now ample evidence to conclude that what first appeared to be a long-term or even permanent trend among industrialized countries was actually a short-term adjustment which is already well on its way to reversing itself. In fact, present indication suggest that the long-term prognosis is for an increasing shortage of workers in the industrialized world.
With unemployment rates at a 30-year low in the USA, many jobs remain unfilled, particularly those requiring specific skills. The unemployment rate for engineers is 1.6 percent, for computer programmers 1.4 percent, and for computer scientists 1.2 percent. Recruiting workers is difficult, but retaining them is becoming an even greater challenge in Europe and the United States.
A 1999 study conducted for the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) in the USA, a group of 2500 manufacturing companies, found that the No. 1 problem faced by American manufacturing companies was the growing shortage of skilled workers to fill jobs in industry. Although skilled toolmakers and machinists commonly earn upwards of $40,000 to 50,000 a year, many of these companies are being forced to make huge investments in automated equipment or to subcontract work to overseas firms due to the scarcity of job applicants. High skill jobs are not the only ones facing labor shortages in the USA. The Associated Builders and Contractors estimates that it would take 240,000 workers to ease the current skilled-labor shortage in the construction industry.
Although labor and, especially, skilled labor shortages are more prominent in the most developed nations, it would be a mistake to assume that they do not exist in developing countries as well. The explosive growth of population in these countries has no doubt resulted in an imbalance between population and job growth, but here too there are signs that the gap is narrowing and labor shortages have emerged in specific regions of many countries. This is even the case is some relatively low income developing countries such as India in states such as Punjab and Maharashtra where commercial agriculture has advanced rapidly. Farmers and businesses in these and other areas report an acute shortage of both farm and factory workers.
Surveys should be conducted preparatory to the Summit to document the skill shortages in different countries and sectors of the economy, so that specific strategies can be formulated to fill these gaps.
The best documented and most celebrated example of the emerging skill shortage has been in fields related to information technology. McKinsey & Company, one the world's largest management consulting firms, estimates that global demand for information technology will exceed $1.9 trillion by 2008, including $1 trillion for I.T. services, $700 billion for software products, and $142 billion for I.T.-enabled services. For the past two decades, worldwide growth of the computer industry has outstripped even the very rapid increase in the availability of trained workers. Annual studies in the USA routinely assess the shortfall of information technology professionals at upwards of 200,000. Between escalating salaries and lost business opportunities, the labor shortage in Silicon Valley alone is costing technology companies an estimated $4 billion a year. Similar shortages of high tech workers exist in most industrialized nations.
In one of the largest, most comprehensive studies yet undertaken, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) examined demand over the boarder category of information technology workers and found that the IT workforce and the current IT skill shortage are both far larger than previously estimated. ITAA estimates that the US currently employs 10 million information technology workers and will create 1.6 million new positions in this category during year 2000 alone. Of these 1.6 million new jobs, approximately 800,000 or 50% will remain unfilled due to the growing shortage of skilled workers. The greatest need for IT workers is in the largest segment of the economy--smaller non-IT firms. Greatest demand is for people with both technical and non-technical skills. By one estimate the I.T. skill shortage in Europe is about 20% lower than in the USA.
The achievement of India's software industry serves as one index of this growing domestic shortage in developed nations. India's software industry, which exports software services primarily to the USA, Western Europe and Japan, has increased from a mere $10 million in 1984 to $8 billion in 1999. A study by McKinsey forecasts that India's software industry could generate $87 billion in revenues and employ 2.2 million people before the end of this decade.
For many years, Western nations responded to the increasing shortage of high technology workers by increasing levels of immigration and raising quotas for the temporary employment of skilled foreign workers. Over the past five years, the USA increased the quota of new H-1 visas allotted annually from 65,000 to 115,000. After doubling the allotment, the entire quota for year 2000 was filled within the first half of the year. Businesses are requesting that the annual quota be increased to 200,000 and a Congressional Committee has recommended abolishing the quota entirely for the next three years. Many of these temporary workers eventually obtain green cards for permanent residence in the USA. One result of this trend is an astonishingly large number of immigrants providing professional services. By one estimate, 38% of US doctors and 12% of all US scientists are of Indian origin.
High domestic costs and public sensitivity in developed nations regarding the increased immigration has generated another trend that can dramatically expand employment generation in developing countries. Increasingly, companies in developed countries are looking to outsource service sector jobs to workers in developing countries. The prospects in this field are not only at the high end of the technology spectrum where a limited number of highly educated software engineers can earn salaries nearly equivalent to levels pertaining the West. Exciting opportunities are opening up across a broad spectrum of Information Technology-enabled services, cross-border businesses that utilize information technology to provide services to customers around the world.
This field is not entirely new. For years, several leading US banks and insurance companies have been outsourcing and out-locating human resources, customer service, telemarketing, back office and administrative operations to firms in the Caribbean and Ireland. The explosive growth of the Internet has drastically reduced the time, cost and effort required to do so, thereby opening up this field to many more companies and to countries around the world.
The category of I.T. enabled services includes a range of rapidly emerging opportunities:
The outsourcing and out-location of service sector jobs is still in its infancy, so it is difficult to project the full magnitude of the potential. However, it can be reasoned that for every new job created in the software industry, 50 or 100 jobs can be created by application of information technology in other fields. If this is the case, this single trend could generate fresh employment opportunities for as many as 100 million people worldwide during the coming decade.
At each stage of social development, different fields of activity generate the impetus for further growth. The most successful employment strategies will be those that accelerate growth of fields which are already expanding rapidly. For instance, although the entire service sector category is growing rapidly in developed nations, certain service activities are leading the charge. Emphasis on removing obstacles and stimulating faster expansion in these fields will be most effective in stimulating employment growth.
Table 2 shows the growth rates for the fastest growing service industries in the USA over the past quarter century. Table 3 gives the projected growth rates of specific occupations in the USA from 1994 to 2005.
Lists of fast growing sectors and occupations should be compiled for every country, so that educational and training courses can be refocused on those with the largest potential, not only within the country but in other countries that can be serviced from overseas.
Table 2: Fast growing sectors of the US economy
Table 3: Fastest growing occupations in US
Although poverty has plagued large sections of humanity throughout history, the problem of unemployment is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to the industrial revolution and development of the factory system, relatively few people held ‘jobs'. For the vast majority, work meant livelihood rather than employment. That livelihood consisted of the multiple tasks individuals performed, whether for themselves or for others, that supported a subsistence-level existence for their families.
The introduction of the factory system transformed our concept of work from livelihood to employment or job. The institutionalization of work as jobs meant that most people became fully dependent on one external source of employment for their entire livelihood. It forged a division between the role of men as paid career employees and women as unpaid housewives. The extension of this same model to all types of white collar work raised enormously the cost of expanding the workforce, since each additional worker required a place and facilities to work outside the home. In recent years the high economic and social costs of this model have created strong pressure on business to reduce the number of institutional jobs.
This has partly been achieved by automation of work. But more significantly, the advent of advanced communication technology is leading to a reverse trend from institutionalized jobs back to personal livelihood. Technology and changing organizational cultures are enabling more people to work wherever they choose to live. In the USA, a rapidly growing number of people are engaged in telecommuting, employment in the home linked to the institutional workplace over telephone and internet networks.
A study by AT&T estimates that 19.6 million Americans carry on paid work from their home at least one day per month, compared with 3.4 million in 1990. A report by FIND/SVP estimates that three-quarters of these US telecommuters utilize a computer. The average telecommuter is over 40 years of age, earns $51,000 a year and works about 19 hours a week from the house. Seventy-six percent of them are married and 46% have children. Other studies indicate that this trend is accelerating rapidly and could effect a large portion of the US population. The Gartner Group predicts that there will be 37 million US telecommuters by 2003. Telecommuting is also growing in many areas of Europe, Canada and the Pacific Rim.
Within the next decade, it is likely that more than half the US workforce will be "virtual," telecommuting from home or regional office co-ops shared by several companies. Virtual partnerships between independent contractors also will flourish, as sophisticated telecommunications capabilities enable people to link-up with anyone, anywhere. As this trend accelerates, jobs will follow individuals, not the other way around. Since telecommuting can be done from virtually any place in the world over the internet, this trend will open up vast opportunities for creation of additional service sector jobs in developing countries.
Far-sighted thinkers such as Harlan Cleveland have been stating for decades that job or employment-based societies will eventually give place to societies in which individuals are politically, socially and economically free to choose personal livelihoods suited to their own capacities and interests. Formal jobs as we know them will give way to more flexible work structures. In other words, the evolution of society from individual livelihood to organized employment is coming back a full turn of the wheel, or rather of the spiral; for it is not coming back to where it started but rather to a far higher evolutionary position in which individuals will have maximum security and maximum freedom. An inevitable stage in the transition to this utopian-sounding achievement is a period in which society generates far more jobs than there are people to fill them. When that occurs, the status and function of job will give way to a more flexible and humane organization of work. Trends now emerging on the global horizon suggest that the time for this accomplishment may be very much sooner than anyone presently believes possible.
Having established the theoretical possibility of creating 500 million jobs and having identified some of the major trends and opportunities that support accomplishment of this goal at the present time, the Summit must turn to the task of identifying specific recommendations for implementation by participating countries and agencies. In formulating recommendations several criteria should be kept in mind.
In formulating recommendations to achieve the global goal of creating 500 million additional employment opportunities, the Summit will have to address a very wide range of initial conditions in countries at different stages of development and with different historic, geographic, demographic and political profiles. One possible approach is to prepare sets of recommendations appropriate for different groups of countries-developed nations, transition economies, newly industrialized nations and other developing countries. Of course, country-to-country differences would still require further differentiation: even between the relatively homogeneous European Community, policies and performance vary to widely to cover all cases with a common formula.
This paper does not take this approach. Instead it focuses on common underlying factors or principles that influence employment generation in every country, regardless of its level of development and specific local context. It points to basic social forces that can be activated by every country to accelerate the process of development and employment generation. It then illustrates how some of these principles can be applied in different contexts. If the Summit were to follow this approach, the preparatory task would be to formulate a complete list of such strategies, illustrate how specific countries are currently performing, and assess the potential benefits of raising performance on each strategy. It could further develop the specificity of the recommendations by examining the application of each principle to different levels of development and then leave it to each individual country to identify the strategies most appropriate for its context and the level of implementation possible in the local context. In essence, the Summit would provide a set of tools that policy-makers and other agencies can wield to achieve full employment.
The Summit will be most effective if it eschews out-dated notions of development strategy that have proven ineffective in the past. The following principles can serve as useful guidelines:
These recommendations will fall under a variety of different headings:
This paper illustrates of few representative types of recommendations under each of these headings.
In discussing a conceptual framework for employment generation, we said that employment is a natural outcome of social development and that measures which accelerate the process of social development can generate large numbers of permanent new jobs. Global experience over the past five decades has demonstrated the positive contribution of a wide range of factors that increase the velocity of social transactions and the rate of social development, including:
In order to deliver quality education to young children, student-teacher ratios should be halved in most developing countries. Such a change would open up millions of employment opportunities for educated youth, especially for women, who represent 94% of pre-school teachers worldwide. Better pre-school and primary education can have an enormous impact on the overall rate of social development and job creation in the future. Reducing student-teacher ratios in pre-schools and primary schools by 25-50% would create an additional 8-15 million jobs worldwide and contribute significantly to improvements in the quality of primary education, which touches the largest proportion of youth.
Higher levels of education increase productivity, raise personal expectations and consumption, and generate additional jobs in education as well as other fields. Lack of qualifications and inadequate and out-dated skills commonly characterize the long-term unemployed. There is a strong positive correlation between higher education and higher incomes. The employment rate for college graduates in the United States is 75 percent versus 48 percent for high school drop¬outs; and at the height of the last recession, 3.2 percent of col¬lege graduates were unemployed compared to 11.4 percent of high school drop-outs. Only 57 percent of 18 year olds in OECD countries are pursuing formal education. The Japanese built their highly competitive workforce by raising the educational attainments of the bottom half of its primary and secondary school population. Raising the minimum compulsory level of education, as several European countries have recently done, increases the qualifications of new job seekers, increases the number of jobs in teaching, and postpones the entrance of young people into the work force. Raising the statutory and enforced minimum by two years in every country could generate tens of millions of additional jobs worldwide and prepare today's students for more demanding, productive and attractive employment opportunities in the coming decades. This strategy is as appropriate to developed countries with comparatively high minimum levels as it is for developing countries with low levels, because in each case the demands for more educated workers continue to increase rapidly.
"There are over 2,700 complementary currency systems operational in the world today, most of which have sprung up to generate local work in high unemployment areas. In the US, 39 communities have followed Ithaca, NY, in creating their own paper currency, redeemable only within the community. More than 400 communities in the UK have started their own electronic complementary currency system called the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS). Similarly, in Germany they are called Tauschring, in France Grains de Sel, and several hundred such grassroots projects are now operational in these countries as well. All of these systems will be explained in detail later. These initiatives are often treated as marginal curiosities by mainstream media and academic circles. However, in New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and 30 different US states, regional governments have been funding the start-up of such systems because they have proven effective in solving local employment problems. In New Zealand, the Central Bank has discovered that complementary currencies actually help to control the overall inflation in the national currency."
'A Complementary Scenario'
India has recently taken a pioneering initiative to mainstream and spread micro-credit that should be applicable to many other countries. In 1999 the Reserve Bank of India ser up a Micro Credit Special Cell to suggest measures to the commercial banks for increasing the flow of micro credit. Presently small borrowers (less than $500) represent 89% of the commercial bank loans but only 12.5% of the value of loans outstanding. Segregating small borrowers into new entities can dramatically increase the efficiency of the commercial banks while increasing access to small borrowers. He intention is to channel more of these funds from the banks through micro credit subsidiaries, NGOs, self-help groups and other intermediary organizations. In 2000, the Government has targeted to extend support to 100,000 self-help groups throughout the country.
Soil testing and soil enhancement for micro nutrients that are not replenished by conventional chemical fertilizers has been shown to double or triple farm yields and income under a variety of conditions in India. The quality of soil testing facilities may need to be upgraded to perform these tests. A detailed program has been drawn up and demonstrated in India by California Agricultural Consulting Services.
Government agricultural extension services, research stations and agricultural colleges in poorer developing countries often play a limited role in dissemination of best practices because of lack of clear targets or administrative discipline. These agencies can be required to demonstrate achievement of specific targets for higher yields and profitability on farmers' fields rather than under non-commercial conditions on government property.
To counter this tendency, programs can be formulated to actively encourage rural youth to become agricultural entrepreneurs. Agricultural colleges and universities can give preference for admission of students seeking to become professional farmers. Farm schools can be established in rural areas on lands leased out from farmers to provide on site practical training for farmers on advanced agricultural methods. These schools can be financially self-sufficient since they will produce profitable commercial crops as part of the instruction process.
Expansion of this industry can generate very large numbers of jobs in developing countries. Inadequate financing is often cited as the major reason for inadequate growth in this sector. Yet, housing is also one of the few assets that almost always appreciate in value over time, providing reliable security for lending to even highly-leveraged home owners. There is enormous scope for increasing both domestic and foreign investment in this sector by modifying government regulations that presently restrict or discourage such investments. The securitization of housing mortgages that began in the USA and has spread to many countries is an example of a financial innovation that can vastly expand investment in this housing. Micro-lending and complementary currencies can also be very effective means to harness locally available material and human resources to expand housing. A study should be undertaken of successful policies and programs to promote housing development in different countries, so that appropriate packages of recommendations can be presented at the Summit.
The Summit may succeed in drawing up a very extensive list of potentially beneficial strategies that can be implemented locally, nationally and internationally to generate 500 million additional employment opportunities or even more. However, critical decisions will still need to be taken to determine which strategies can be implemented most successfully in each country and region of the country at any given time. Therefore, the Summit should also present an overall strategy that will help decision-makers determine the most appropriate package of strategies for their specific area, the priority to be given to each, and the sequence of their implementation. This is what we refer to as the strategy of strategies.
In the course of its development, every society passes through a progression of stages and sub-stages from less to more advanced levels. The early stages form the essential foundation and basis for greater, more sophisticated developments. This principle is true both for development of the society as a whole as well as for development of specific geographic regions and fields of activity within the society.
This progression can be illustrated in the field of agriculture, which has passed through a natural evolution from rain-fed subsistence cultivation to irrigation by river water, man-made irrigation tanks, and wells to tap groundwater resources. These advances have been followed by introduction of various levels of mechanization, as well as hybrid seeds and fertilizers to increase soil fertility and plant productivity. Sprinkler and drip irrigation are later innovations that have dramatically increased the productivity of water resources in agriculture. Biotechnology is now being applied to advance agricultural development even further. This progressive development of on-farm practices has been made possible by and has stimulated corresponding advances in related fields. As agriculture became more productive, infrastructure facilities such as roads, storage and cold storage facilities, soil labs, veterinary and extension services, weather forecasting, market forecasting, research institutes, training and educational programs have been expanded and upgraded. Increasing farm productivity has led to the introduction of commercial crops, processing plants, links to downstream industries and to global export markets.
A similar gradation exists in every field. India's recent accomplishments in the software industry are based on a long series of prior stages, including the education of large numbers of English speaking college graduates; the opening of world class technology and engineering universities in the 1950s that generated a huge surplus of engineers; the sending of large numbers of people for higher education and employment in the USA and UK, where they were exposed to the latest technology and demonstrated a high level of competence in this field; establishment of firms to place Indian software professionals on temporary work assignment in the USA; the return of well-educated and experienced Indians from abroad to found new software export companies in India; the proliferation of software training institutions to train hundreds of thousands of graduates in a wide range of computer-related skills; the liberalization of computer imports; opening up of the telecommunications sector for private and foreign investment; software export promotion incentives; and so forth.
Regardless whether the field is agriculture or computer technology, different countries are at different stages of progression. There are also considerable differences between regions within countries. The most appropriate strategy for any country or region will be to identify precisely where it currently is on the development progression in each specific field and to identify and implement measures that will advance activities in the field in a logical sequence to the next higher stages.
This does not mean that every developing country needs now to pass through the entire sequence of steps that nations have earlier passed through in each field, since access to knowledge, technology, organizational know-how and markets is far greater today that in the past. Nor does it imply that the time required for each stage of progression today need be similar to what it was in the past. The world is much better prepared for rapid change today than during any earlier period. However, it does mean that there are essential prerequisites for each further stage of advancement and that the maximum progress will be achieved in the minimum time by identifying and fulfilling these conditions. The more conscious a society becomes of the essential stages and conditions for the development process, the more rapidly it can traverse the ground that others have already passed over, abridging the time and avoiding the errors and problems of those who have come earlier.
The goal of generating 500 million additional employment opportunities within the coming decade may have been inconceivable at any time in the past. Even now, many may find it difficult to believe this goal is achievable. But, so too were many of the world's recent accomplishments in different fields before and even after their realization. The end of the Cold War and imminent threat of nuclear annihilation, the peaceful unification of Europe, and global spread of the Internet are striking recent instances of humanity's heightened capacity for rapid advancement. Never before has world society had the power for such a significant undertaking, one that can provide greater economic security for vast sections of humanity. The very fact that the YES initiative has been conceived and set in motion is an expression of an enhanced capacity for creative thinking and constructive action. In an age when human rights and needs are continuously reaffirmed in the international arena, it is easy to mistake the call for full employment as one more in a long list of unfulfilled and, perhaps, unachievable human aspirations. But that would be an error of judgment equivalent in magnitude to that to which many Europeans fell prey a few centuries ago when they looked upon the call for political democracy as utopian idealism or idle fancy. In retrospect it is now evident that the political emancipation of the common citizenry from the exercise of arbitrary power and tyranny by monarchical rule, which the advent of modern democracy has brought about, represents that indispensable foundation for humanity's enormous social progress over the past several hundred years. Political freedom has liberated human thought, aspiration, energy and initiative from the oppression of physical power. The principle of might is right has largely given place to the principle of right is might in the governance of advanced democratic nations. But political democracy can only be considered the first step, the first of four great freedoms that are necessary to fully liberate the power of the human spirit for the fulfillment of life on earth. Political emancipation must be succeeded by an economic emancipation that will permanently abolish the insecurity and threat of deprivation that still looms like a specter over the lives of large sections of humanity. No amount of technological development or prosperity can by itself ensure economic security for all. This second great freedom can only be brought about by the proclamation and enforcement of the right of every citizen to a sustainable livelihood, which means a commitment and dedication of every society to the goal of full employment. The sense of peace and security generated by such a commitment will release a hitherto unimaginable outpouring of human energy, creativity and accomplishment in all fields of activity. If instituted now, it can bring within the century just beginning greater progress for humanity than has been achieved during the entire millennium that has just come to a close. Political and economic emancipation together constitute the necessary foundation for two higher levels of human freedom and fulfillment. First, it will make possible a psychological emancipation of the human individual from oppression, confinement and conformity to the ruling ideas, values, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that the dominant majority in every society seeks to impose as a subtle form of control and domination over itself and everyone else. Psychological emancipation will give rise to a society of thinking, creative individuals capable of conceiving and realizing in life ideals we dare not believe in or even dream of today. And finally, this third freedom will make possible a fourth, a spiritual emancipation of humanity from the limitations and oppression of the human ego and a discovery of the spiritual infinity which is our true source and destiny.
Social development is a process of self-conception by which the collective progressively realizes in action new ideas and values that it has previously embraced in thought. The insistence on affirming the human right to assured employment opportunities does not issue merely from an idealistic call for a social justice or from sympathy with the economic insecurity and profound physical suffering of those who live in physical deprivation, though both justice and human sympathy demand nothing less. Rather this insistence arises from an understanding that this affirmation is an inevitable next step in the natural course of human development, which sooner or later the human community will demand and take by force if it is not extended by consent.
In retrospect we take for granted the previous steps in this evolutionary progression of humanity, steps which at the moment they were proposed seemed utopian, unrealistic or even anathema to many who were called upon to take them. The extension of property rights and voting rights to the un-enfranchised majority in monarchical Europe, the abolition of slavery in North America, the end of West European imperialism and colonial empires around the globe, the elimination of military rule in Latin America and totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, the eradication of social ostracism, religious persecution, untouchability and caste privilege, and the global battle to eradicate famine, illiteracy and epidemic disease are inevitable steps from humanity's primitive, feudal past in which a small minority possessed all the privileges at the expense of the unpossessed majority to a free and prosperous future in which every individual is not only free to strive but empowered to achieve and enjoy the fruits of freedom and prosperity.
Yet, at the moment these rights were first proposed, they were vigorously denied or scorned by those few who enjoyed the security and privilege of prior possession. A landed aristocracy ridiculed the notion that the masses could or should choose their own representatives, formulate their own laws and govern themselves. An educated minority derided the idea that every citizen could or should acquire literacy and book knowledge. But these and so many other apparently unrealizable and, perhaps from the perspective of an earlier period, undesirable goals have been accepted in principle as the rightful heritage if not yet the concrete possession of all humanity. The process of this evolutionary progression is well documented and its lessons can readily be drawn. Every society has the option of utilizing one of two modes of progress, evolutionary or revolutionary; either to accept the natural and inevitable course of human development that is gradually extending greater and greater rights and privileges to all human beings or to resist the inevitable course until the growing social pressure of evolutionary force explodes and wipes out the old order. While both courses are possible, they are certainly not equally desirable. The first can result in a very rapid and smooth advancement leading to a far higher level of material prosperity for everyone. The second may easily result in a more or less prolonged period of social disorder, insecurity and destruction of the old, before the new can be built on a stable foundation. The Summit should project the evolutionary pathway to a more peaceful and prosperous future, reveal the great magnitude of the opportunity that exists for rapid progress at this time, and provide a map for those willing to convert this opportunity into reality.
Reference This paper was originally prepared by The Mother's Service Society, Pondicherry, India for the Youth Employment Summit