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Future of Work in the Global South: Digital Labor, New Opportunities and Challenges

December 13, 2021

  Diego Aguilar, Aileen Agüero, Onkokame Mothobi, Tharaka Amarasinghe

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This new document studies the barriers to digital labor market participation, characterizing digital workers and focusing on gender and social inequalities in the Global South.

Increases in access to Internet have led to the emergence of a new world of work, with an important potential of gig work to contribute in significant ways to marginalized populations in the Global South, especially in contexts of high unemployment rates, informality, less secure forms of employment and limited opportunities.

Despite the potential benefits that can be derived from digital labor platforms as an alternative to find and perform income-generating activities, there are several barriers for populations of developing countries to take advantage of this global resource. In this context, the document characterizes digital workers of the Global South, with special attention to gender aspects and social inequalities; we also estimate the main determinants of entry decisions to digital labor markets (by gender), as well as the main determinants that explain pay gaps between men and women (gender pay gap) and between women that participate and women that do not  participate in the digital labor market.


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Work is changing rapidly. Learning to navigate the changes will benefit us all.

IDRC has launched FOWIGS—a research program that will help understand how these changes are affecting the lives of the most vulnerable and suggest pathways for an inclusive digital future. The challenges are large and the questions are complex. But we need to face them now more than ever. Stay connected. Learn how.


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