Summary: Creating more and better jobs has become a top priority for policy makers in Europe and Central Asia. This book addresses the timely questions of what steps countries can take to do just that, and how to make work opportunities accessible to all. These questions are examined through the lens of two factors that make most of the region unique: the legacy of centrally planned economies (which is related to progress with market economy reforms) and the region's demographic shifts (with some countries' populations aging rapidly while others experience youth bulges). The book underscores five key findings. First, sustained market reforms pay off in terms of greater job creation and increased productivity, although results take time to materialize. Second, harnessing the potential of entrepreneurship in the region is key to boosting job creation, but, just as in the more advanced economies, not all young firms succeed. Third, many workers, especially younger and older workers, are ill prepared to succeed in today's dynamic labor market because they lack the skills that employers need. Fourth, high labor taxes and the design of pensions and social benefits often discourage employment, and multiple barriers exclude many women, minorities, youth, and older workers from the labor market. Fifth, workers often fail to move to places with stronger job creation potential within their own countries, making it difficult to connect them with jobs in more vibrant regions. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Priorities depend on each country's situation, including its demographic outlook and the progress already made with economic and institutional reforms. The jobs challenge in Europe and Central Asia is pressing, but it is not insurmountable.
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