People working the land sowing in the field
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all


In 2018, around 30.8% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lived below the poverty line. In many places, having a job does not guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and ensuring decent work.


A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. The creation of quality jobs will remain a major challenge for almost all the region’s economies.

Challenges and opportunities for the implementation, follow-up and review of SDG 8 and its targets

    • Challenges

      • Technological change entails an enormous shift in labour relations and production and consumption patterns, and a major challenge for the labour market in Latin America and the Caribbean.

      • The procurement of services over the Internet has grown exponentially and tax and labour legislation must be adapted; one challenge is ensuring that companies providing such services collect and make the appropriate contributions to protect the labour rights and social security of their workers.

      • There are demographic challenges and international movements of people in the region that have an impact on the world of work and must be addressed.

      • There are challenges for governments in terms of regulating, measuring and improving the inspection of child labour and of prohibited adolescent labour.

      • There is currently a great challenge in relation to migration to prevent the expansion of child labour.

      • Working hours in the region have been increasing, sometimes beyond the limits stipulated in labour laws.

      • In relation to gender equality in the labour market, there are cultural factors that have not yet been addressed. These factors underlie the wage gap, vocational guidance, social organization of care and violence and harassment in the workplace.

      • The region still has to ensure the right to information on employment conditions and contributions for domestic workers, in order to guarantee standard hours and payment for overtime, holidays and bonuses, and eradicate the practice of payment in kind (food and accommodation).


      • Harness new technologies to generate quality jobs and narrow gender gaps in the world of work.

      • Use spaces for social dialogue to address the challenges of the future of work.

      • Use geospatial data to show whether informality and child labour are more widespread in the most vulnerable sectors.

      • Strengthen the continuous measurement of child labour through household surveys.

      • Shed light on gender inequalities through time-use measurements that allow the formulation and implementation of public policies based on empirical evidence.

Lessons learned and good practices with respect to SDG 8 and its targets

      • Legal changes and formalization do not necessarily imply an increase in social security enrolment; there is no precise correlation between formalization and affiliation. However, there are a number of factors that foster or encourage higher social security coverage, including the strengthening of labour institutions and oversight capacity.

      • More than the form of the employment contract (written or verbal), data show that what matters is the government’s ability to monitor the registration of domestic workers with social security.

      • Government oversight for protecting domestic workers can be provided in three stages:
        • Intensive inspection: the government deals promptly with each complaint of non-contribution or wrongful dismissal.
        • Targeted inspection: a representative sample of medium- and upper-class households are selected to gradually encourage enrolment at all levels.
        • Random inspection: adopted once a certain level of registration is achieved.
      • In general, the countries with the most successful models and highest coverage rates have the following characteristics:
        • Compulsory social security.
        • Contribution schemes that take into account the particular characteristics of each country and its economic or social policy.
        • Contribution facilitators based on tax incentives.
        • Government follow-up.
        • Clear and effective sanctions.

Recommendations from Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve SDG 8 and its targets

      • Consider strengthening labour rights and examine future challenges such as migration, technological shifts and changes in labour organization, and look at new forms of informality arising from the digital economy.

      • Recognize and measure child labour and prohibited adolescent labour, shedding light particularly on girls and adolescent girls in this situation.

      • Promote decent work opportunities for young people of legal working age.

      • Ensure access to social protection for all workers and analyse how social protection can be regulated and funded in the future in the absence of the traditional relationship between employer and employee.

      • Implement public policies that respond to the care demands of persons with some level of dependence and that clearly consider the rights of caregivers.

      • Foster a people-centred business and economic model.

      • Increase investment in people’s capacities and promote lifelong learning, especially amid changes in the world of work.

      • Establish transformative schemes at work to achieve gender equality.
      • Strengthen social and labour inclusion strategies for young people who are excluded from education and the labour market, fostering in particular the expansion of care policies for young people with family responsibilities.

      • Increase investment in labour institutions.

      • Expand people’s sovereignty over their time.

      • Revitalize collective representation.

      • Harness technology for decent work and increase investment in decent and sustainable jobs.

      • Foster enrolment in social security systems as a shared responsibility and consider easy methods for employers to pay contributions.

Key messages from the region on the issues addressed by SDG 8 and its targets

      • All-round analysis of the world of work is required, and should encompass both the dynamics of the market and those of unpaid work done in the home for the benefit of societies, which underpins the functioning of the economy.

      • It is not just necessary to increase the number of jobs in the region, but also to improve their quality.

      • Efforts to reduce informality and guarantee full access to social protection for all workers in the region must be redoubled.

      • There are risks of increased labour vulnerability with the jobs arising from new technologies. It is necessary to regulate employment mediated by online platforms and ensure these workers have access to social protection.

      • Serious gender inequalities in the world of work must also be tackled, which would require increasing the number of women in quality jobs, closing gender wage gaps, ensuring access to social protection, eliminating occupational segregation, increasing the number of women in managerial positions and ensuring shared responsibility for care.

      • With growing flows of migrants, there is a need for a model that includes everyone in the social security system regardless of their migratory status and to strengthen or create mechanisms for the portability of entitlements.

      • The majority of adolescents in the region who migrate to other countries join the informal labour market.
      • The probability of child labour is lower when parents have access to decent work.

      • Child labour leads to a shorter life cycle than the average and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Inequality is the main cause of child labour.

      • Governments and stakeholders must work together to end child labour as a commitment of national and local agendas.

      • The responsibility for registering domestic workers in social security systems should be shared and accessible, and contribution methods must not exclude lower-income workers.

      • Collective bargaining and trade union processes are needed for domestic workers, with respect to both wages and working conditions; to ensure the labour rights of domestic workers, distinctions should be drawn between the care of children, older persons or the sick as specialized activities within professional services.

      • Economic policies must adopt an equality approach, based on reliable and rigorous statistics, in order to avoid marginalizing domestic workers and making them more vulnerable.

    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all in Latin America and the Caribbean

    The analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) presented here is the outcome of the discussions held within the framework of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and Caribbean on Sustainable Development, convened under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

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