The Strategist

Study: Distance employment potential is limited by GDP and Internet access

08/13/2020 - 07:23

The World Bank estimates that up to 24% of jobs globally could be performed from home, with the largest proportion of employees going to work remotely in wealthy countries with high GDP per capita. The maximum potential for their transfer is in the Luxembourg labor market, the minimum is in Ethiopia. Calculations that take into account the presence of a physical connection to the network reduce the indicator for poor countries, but do not change it for high-income countries due to the availability of alternatives.

Almost one in four employees in the world could work from home, but this figure varies significantly from region to region, according to analysts from one of the research units of the World Bank, who analyzed data from the International Labor Organization on jobs in 107 countries. To assess the potential for transferring these jobs to the home, the researchers divided the respective job responsibilities into three groups. The first included work that does not require access to the Internet, the second - connected with the Internet and performed at home with a connection, and the third - connected with the Internet, but without the possibility of a home connection.

In countries with a high level of income (whose nominal GDP per capita exceeds $ 12.5 thousand), one in three jobs could be organized at home.

On the contrary, in countries with a low level of income (nominal GDP per capita below $ 1,035 thousand) there were much less of them - according to the authors of the study, only every 26th workplace, or less than 4%, could become remote. Luxembourg, which leads the list of OECDs in terms of GDP per capita, has the largest number of migrated jobs - over 50% of workers can be relocated there. They are followed by Israel (47%), Sweden (44%), Czech Republic (43%), Estonia (38%) and Ireland (35%). In turn, the anti-leaders of this rating are the poorest countries in Africa, Zimbabwe (6%) and Ethiopia (5.5%).

At the same time, the researchers note, if we take into account the inaccessibility of home Internet for a number of segments of the population, the share of potential remote jobs is reduced to 18.7%, again mainly due to low-income countries, where telecommunication technologies are least common. So, for Ethiopia, taking into account the parameter of home Internet accessibility, the share of possible remote jobs is reduced from 5.5% to 2.1%, and for Nepal - from 14.7% to 6.3%.

For countries from the top ten ranking - for example, Luxembourg, Sweden, Great Britain - the parameter of home Internet accessibility practically does not play a role (probably due to the availability of alternative connection options). On average, the share of jobs that involve the use of telecommunication technologies with the exception of the Internet is low in the world (3%) and does not exceed 5% in each individual country. The share of jobs that need the Internet and have access to it is several times higher and amounts to about 20%, the share of jobs that do not require access to the Internet is now estimated by WB analysts at only 2%.

When the distribution of potential telecommuting jobs is taken into account, the most vulnerable in all countries are the youngest workers (ages 15-24) and the “working poor” with low income.

At the same time, research shows that access to a full-fledged telecommuting workplace depends little on the gender of the employee. Moreover, in Europe and Mexico, women are about 10 percentage points more likely than men to get work that can be done remotely, while in Brazil the gap widens to 19.4 percentage points. In contrast, India has no gender disparity, while in Turkey women are 12.7 percentage points less likely to be able to work from home than men.


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