Wages shape everything from demand and consumption, to education, housing and health. Yet wages are the subject of heated debate around the world from the United States to Myanmar. Several nations have seen wages stagnate. Many sell low wages as a competitive advantage and argue that there is a trade-off between higher wages and quantity of employment. Others warn of a ‘race to the bottom’ that is depressing wages, exacerbating inequality and hampering economic growth.
This JustJobs Network conference, co-hosted by Prakash Loungani of the Jobs & Growth group at the IMF, brought together high-level participants from governments, international institutions, academia, the private sector and civil society.
The conference sparked discussion on the question: What is the right approach to balancing higher wages and competitiveness? It discussed strategies such as minimum wage legislation, strengthening freedom of association and collective bargaining, productivity-raising measures such as skill development and corporate codes of conduct to govern wages in supply chains.