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The Social Value of Employment and the Redistributive Imperative for Development

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Fischer, Andrew M.. 2014. The Social Value of Employment and the Redistributive Imperative for Development. New York.

The Social Value of Employment and the Redistributive Imperative for Development

Evaluating the inherently relative and subjective social value of employment needs to be placed within a broader inquiry about the conditions under which a sufficient and sustained perception of social value might be cultivated within particular employment settings, in a manner that is adaptive and resilient to the often profound structural transformations associated with socio-economic development. This paper contends that these conditions are intricately related to redistributive processes within societies. A vital role of public policy is to strengthen progressive redistributive institutional mechanisms as a means to cultivate resilience and positive synergies between the social values of employment, and human and economic development. This argument is made in four sections, including: some stylized facts of contemporary population growth and labour transitions across the global South; the limitations of standard economics approaches in dealing with issues of labour market intermediation and employment regulation as well as a variety of alternative socially and institutionally embedded views; the valuation of labour, drawing from the example of care work to illustrate the importance of redistributive mechanisms to socialize the costs of relatively skilled service sector employment; and lastly, some examples of the redistributive imperative in contemporary development. The conclusion offers some reflections on structural vulnerabilities in a context of labour transitions and human development.