Cover art by Diego Rivera, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, 1931, fresco, 271 by 357 inches, gift of William Gerstle. Image Copyright © San Francisco Art Institute. Used with permission; further permission required for reuse. Cover design by Weight Creative, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

World Development Report 2019



Main Messages

Fears that robots will take away jobs from people have dominated the discussion over the future of work, but the World Development Report 2019 finds that on balance this appears to be unfounded. Instead, technology is bringing opportunity, paving the way to create new jobs, increase productivity, and improve public service delivery.

The nature of work is changing.

  • Firms can grow rapidly thanks to digital transformation, which blurs their boundaries and challenges traditional production patterns.
  • The rise of the digital platform firm means that technological effects reach more people faster than ever before.
  • Technology is changing the skills that employers seek. Workers need to be good at complex problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability.
  • Technology is changing how people work and the terms on which they work. Even in advanced economies, short-term work, often found through online platforms, is posing similar challenges to those faced by the world’s informal workers.

What can governments do?

The 2019 WDR suggests three solutions:

  1. Invest in human capital especially in disadvantaged groups and early childhood education to develop the new skills that are increasingly in demand in the labor market, such as high-order cognitive and sociobehavioral skills
  2. Enhance social protection to ensure universal coverage and protection that does not fully depend on having formal wage employment
  3. Increase revenue mobilization by upgrading taxation systems, where needed, to provide fiscal space to finance human capital development and social protection.

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