Surprise 1: Farmers across the world hate their jobs (799201)
A surprising tidbit from the World Bank report: Across the world, people in agriculture reported lower levels of life satisfaction than people who reported themselves as being unemployed. The exceptions to that case was for farmers in Europe and other economies deemed as "high income." Most farmers across the world are self-sustaining peasants living a hand-to-mouth existence, so it's no surprise many reported a low level of life satisfaction to World Bank surveys. However, it is still surprising to see the unemployed reported higher levels of happiness.
Surprise 2: Being unemployed (or underemployed) is more hurtful for social cohesion in richer countries.
While one would expect the richer nations of the world, with their more expansive social safety nets, public services and civic programs, would prove an easier environment for someone to be unemployed. But researchers commissioned by the World Bank found the exact opposite. Rates of civic participation and social trust plummet for the unemployed in rich societies when compared to other citizens, while the likelihood those same unemployed will take part in demonstrations rises. Something to think about next time violent images of protest from Europe make it onto the international news.
Surprise 3: Youth unemployment is much higher across the world than many people realize
The rate of youth unemployment is astonishingly high in some countries of the world, exceeding 50 percent in four nations: Spain, Greece, Armenia and South Africa. Even more shocking -- the rate of youth unemployment (defined as the number of people between 18 and 24 not in school, training or work) is as a rule nearly double the overall rate of unemployment in most countries.
Surprise 4: The medical profession is not universally venerated.
It seems the idea that there are few causes more worthy of dedicating a career to than saving lives does not translate to every language. When queried about the social and individual value of being a doctor, people across different countries had wildly varied views. In spite of the stereotype of Chinese parents pushing their sons and daughters into medical school, China was the one place the World Bank researchers found being a doctor was less esteemed than choosing other careers, including being a teacher, farmer or civil servant.
Surprise 5: Having a decreasing share of rural jobs does not always mean high development.
While conventional economic history teaches the countries of Europe, the Americas and East Asia went through their periods of highest growth when farmers started moving to the big cities, it seems that pattern need not always apply. Three African countries that have seen high levels of urbanization in the past two decades -- Liberia, Zimbabwe and Madagascar -- actually saw negative real GDP growth over that period.
Surprise 6: Large companies pay much higher wages.
While the view in industrialized nations is that larger companies are more exploitative of their workers and less generous overall, evidence across a larger global spectrum shows larger companies tend to pay workers better. Due to productivity increases, large companies of 20 employees or more tend to pay employees close to a 50 percent premium over the salary they'd receive doing the same job for a micro-enterprise. Even small firms of 8 to 20 employees tend to pay a 20 percent premium.
Surprise 7: The divergences between wage employment and self-employment are culturally driven.
While across the world, the vast majority of people generally prefer to have a stable salary than to have to strike out as a self-employed worker, that is obviously not a possibility for everyone. What is striking is that whether or not that is a possibility seems to hinge not so much on the specifics of the economy, but on cultural factors unique to various countries. The biggest divergence between the levels of salaried employment between men and women come in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa where, simply put, women are shut out of formal employment markets.
Six hundred million jobs.
That's the lofty target a World Bank report released Monday estimates will need to be created on a global basis before 2020 in order to absorb people entering the workforce, prevent economies across the globe from stalling and ward off social discontent.
And that was just one of the many statistics the Washington, D.C.-based institution noted in its mammoth 420-page book on jobs worldwide. The wide-ranging work, which focused on the state of employment worldwide, the effects of recent economic booms and busts and the policy landscape for promoting employment, was chock-full of figures on everything from the economic productivity of certain countries to labor force participation to calculations of how being employed relates to civic participation.
“Demographic shifts, technological progress and the lasting effects of the international financial crisis are reshaping the employment landscape in countries around the world,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a foreword to the report. “Countries that successfully adapt to these changes and meet their jobs challenges can achieve dramatic gains in living standards, productivity growth and more cohesive societies.”
Many of the report's findings were run-of-the-mill for this type of international research book. For example, there are many statistics about how employment empowers women in the process of democratic participation and keeps young people away from violent crime. But there were a few true eye-openers.
In graphic form, we present some of the most surprising World Bank findings.