World Bank's 2019 Annual World Development Report comes at a time where the global economy is growing and the poverty rate is the lowest in recorded history. Technology brings a further wave of uncertainty as the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, both creating opportunities, increasing productivity and eliminating low-skill jobs in advanced economies and developing countries. So what is the solution?
This report emphasises the primacy of human capital in meeting a challenge that, by its very definition, resists simple and prescriptive solutions. Many jobs today, and many more in the near future, will require specific skills - a combinatoin of technological know-how, problem-solving, and critical thinking; as well as soft skills such as perserverance, collaboration, and empathy. Innovation will continue to accelerate, but developing countries will need to take rapid action to ensure they can compete in the economy of the future. They will have to invest in their people with a fierce sense of urgency, especially in health and education, which are the building blocks of human capital, to harness the benefits of technology and to blunt its worst disruptions.
Subsequently, this report challenges governments to take better care of their citizens and calls for a universal, guaranteed minimum level of social protection. It can be done with the right reforms, such as ending unhelpful subsidies; improving labor market regulations; and, globally, overhauling taxation policies. Investing in human capital is not just a concern for ministers of health and education; it should also be a top priority for heads of state and ministers of finance.