SMS App in TanzaniaIn low-to-middle-income countries, there are employers and workers who lack a central area to place job postings or find jobs with ease. In Tanzania, this lack of communication causes employers to hire workers from within their own villages, limiting the reach of their network. This limitation, along with unclear instructions and expensive job search costs, ultimately leads to a broad pay range for similar work. To resolve this issue, a researcher tested how an SMS-based messaging app can be effective when people search for a job in rural Tanzania. The findings were that the creation of this SMS app in Tanzania more easily allowed employees to connect with employers and reduced the wage gap.

No Internet Needed

While the SMS app is similar to online job search websites, it does not rely on internet access. The app simply asks a few important questions about their searches. For example, the app asks employers and workers to identify how much they are willing to pay or how much they wish employers to pay them. The intention of this feature is to lower business deal costs, but it may persuade users to bargain and alter the wages. However, the SMS app can also assist in updating the dispersal of wage offerings in the labor market.

When an employer posts a job, the job listing provides answers to frequently asked questions such as the wage, job type and date the job starts. Once qualified workers receive the advertisement, employers can immediately contact them, thereby lowering the costs it would take to meet in person. The advertisement includes a specific job code, so the workers text the correct code to the employers to apply for the position. After the employer receives the application, they exchange phone numbers and names with potential employees in order to further discuss the details of the job.

How the App Works

Employers can announce job descriptions through an SMS that all listed workers in the neighboring areas receive. This enables employers to extend their offer to more workers instantly. When a worker responds to the job advertisement, the app immediately directs the worker’s application to the employer. After experimenting with the app for one agricultural season, the research found that a large number of villagers began to use the SMS app and were finding success in connecting workers and employees. While the app does not increase the number of jobs available, it does decrease the wage spread.

Decreasing the Wage Gap

The agricultural production of Tanzania is self-reliant, and while Tanzanian families typically carry out their own farming responsibilities, farmers still hire some daily laborers to help. The payments for these workers range from $1.20 to $6.50 per day. However, the outcomes of the assessment established that the SMS-based messaging app lowered the wage gap in the villages, which means employers paid workers wages that matched the average payment for that job. High-paying employers contributed to this reduction by lowering the amount they paid workers, while the low-paying employers raised wages. These results suggest that the app could successfully cause a more permanent reduction in the wage gap and job search costs and create a more efficient labor market.

Increasing Communication

An SMS app that announces obtainable jobs and offers simple job applications through the short messaging system has the capability to upgrade the performance of the agricultural labor business. It will be much easier for workers and employers to look for each other because workers will have access to new job openings, and employers will be able to consider potential hires who are not accessible in their current labor network. This system of hiring is necessary because employers routinely have trouble finding new and professional workers, so they have to resort to rehiring previous employees. This lack of communication between villages results in the workers obtaining contrasting wages for comparatively similar agricultural work. Therefore, the SMS app is necessary to enhance the networking of employers and workers.

The SMS app in Tanzania is accessible because about 93% of the Tanzanian population owns quality phones, and 84% are highly literate. The app lowers the cost of job searching, makes wage rates more comparable and announces available jobs to instantly connect employees with employers. This networking expands the possibilities for employers and employees, especially in Tanzania’s agricultural industry.

– Shalman Ahmed
Photo: Flickr

7 facts about living conditions in australia
In 2015, Australia was ranked as the second-best country in the world in terms of quality of life. This report was based on a number of living condition factors, including financial indicators, like average income, and health standards, education and life expectancy. The following 7 facts about living conditions in Australia further illustrate what life is like in the Land Down Under. Many of these facts are based upon data retrieved from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), comprised of 36 member countries and founded to stimulate world trade.

7 Facts About Living Conditions in Australia

  1. Children Are an Impoverished Group: As of 2018, 13.2 percent of Australians (around three million people) were living below the poverty line, 730,000 of which are children under the age of 15. According to the Poverty in Australia 2018 report, a large reason for the overwhelming number of impoverished children is the high poverty rate among single-parent families relying on a single income. In terms of money, living below the poverty line in Australia translates to earning $433 per week for a single adult, or $909 per week for a married couple with two children. Most individuals experiencing poverty in Australia rely on Government allowance payments, like Youth Allowance and Newstart.
  2. Sanitation is Good: The percentage of homes in Australia that have access to an indoor flushing toilet is more than 95.6 percent, which is the OECD average. Additionally, more than 90% of Australians report satisfaction with their water quality. Access to running water and the high quality of water makes Australia above average in relation to the other 36 OECD member countries.
  3. A Wage Gap Exists: The gap in income between the rich and poor in Australia is quite large; the wealthiest 20 percent of Australians earn almost six times as much as the poorest 20 percent of Australians. This income inequality has been steadily rising since the mid-1990’s. One attempt to remedy income inequality in Australia is a progressive system of income tax, meaning that as an individual’s income increases, they will pay a higher amount of their income in tax. Additionally, social welfare payments account for around 35 percent of the Australian government’s budget. In 2017-2018, this translated to a $164 billion budget for social security and welfare.
  4. Australians Are Staying Employed: Seventy-three percent of Australians aged 15 to 64 have paid jobs, while the percentage of Australians who have been unemployed for one year or longer is 1.3 percent. The percentage of employed Australians is higher than the OECD average. Though the Australian job market thrives, Australians have a below-average ranking in work-life balance.
  5. Strong Education: The average Australian citizen will receive 21 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, which is the highest amount of education in the OECD. Roughly 64 percent of children in Australia attend public schools, while 34 percent attend private or Catholic schools. Additionally, not only is the education system strong for Australian citizens, but international education offered to foreign students is Australia’s third largest export, valued at $19.9 billion.
  6. Rising Crime Rates: Over the past 2 decades, the number of reported crimes has risen dramatically; for example, from 1977-1978, the number of reported break-ins was 880 per thousand. From 1997-1998, this number rose to 2,125 per thousand. In the same period, assaults have risen from 90 to 689 per thousand of population and robberies have risen from 23 to 113 per thousand. While many of these 7 facts about living conditions in Australia indicate increasing quality of life for citizens, rising crime rates affect feelings of security, which has a negative effect on standards of living in Australia.
  7. Improving Health Standards: Health standards in Australia have risen substantially since 1947. From 1947 to 1989, the life expectancy of women increased by 10.9 years, while the life expectancy of men has risen by 9.8 years. Since 1990, life expectancy has risen even more, increasing by another 1.4 years for women and 2 years for men.

With one of the strongest performing economies in the world, Australians experience thriving, stable financial conditions. The education system is well organized and accessible, and health standards have increased and driven the life expectancies of Australians up over the last 70 years.

Yet, despite the tremendous growth and development in Australia, there are areas in standards of living that demand improvement. Perhaps most importantly, income inequality in Australia is alarmingly high, and poverty rates of citizens, and especially children, plagues the strength of Australian society. These 7 facts about living conditions in Australia indicate a thriving and desirable country with a need for concentrated focus on income inequality to eradicate staggering poverty in the lower class.

– Orly Golub
Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in CambodiaSlightly smaller than the state of Oklahoma, the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia has a population of about 16 million, with over half being women. The country is rich in natural resources and has very low levels of unemployment. Despite the high levels of employment, there remains an economic gender gap and a need for women’s empowerment in Cambodia.

This gender gap is not only related to the unequal pay of women compared to men, but women in Cambodia often lack job opportunities and career versatility compared to their male counterparts. Women’s empowerment in Cambodia is paramount because it can have profound impacts on the number of individuals living in deep poverty.

Economic Inequality and Lack of Education

Women in Cambodia who fall under wage employment, make approximately 80.8 percent of men’s earnings. According to the World Bank, there is evidence that this wage gap is growing, from 20 percent in 2009 to 30 percent in 2011. Additionally, approximately 53 percent of women between the ages of 15 to 64, work in agriculture production. This is considered to be a vulnerable type of employment.

According to the International Labour Organization, vulnerable employment is the sum of own-account workers and unpaid contributing family workers. Vulnerable workers often have poor and inadequate working conditions and frequently live in deep poverty.

Women also often have less career versatility and opportunities compared to men due in part to a lack of education and low literacy rates.  In 2012, the literacy rate among women in Cambodia was 73.2 percent, an increase of nearly 13 percent in 2004. However, the literacy rates for men remain much higher at about 87 percent. Girls often tend to drop out of school in greater numbers compared to boys, in turn limiting their job potential later in life.

What can be done?

There are a number of obstacles to women’s empowerment in Cambodia, all of which are primarily related to education. In 2013, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) became more active in Cambodia, working to reduce poverty, improve health and raise educational levels for women. The goal of their work is to provide women with the necessary skills and resources and economically empower women in Cambodia.

The desperately needed economic women’s empowerment in Cambodia can be achieved through education. Once women are educated and empowered, more individuals and families can be lifted out of poverty and the livelihood of millions can improve.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr

Land Rover
Mozambique is quite the paradoxical nation. It ranks 185th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, making it a country with some of the poorest people in the world. Yet, if you walk the streets of the city of Maputo, you’ll see skyscrapers, Land Rovers, sophisticated bars and restaurants, and expensive homes and apartment buildings. Despite the fact that 55% of people in the country live in poverty, it appears that Mozambique has expensive tastes. Who can afford these luxuries?

There is a huge wage gap in the country, with the average worker earning about $100 per month, and the few, super-rich who can afford $230 aftershave and $320 champagne. Many of these upper-class citizens are government ministers, relatives of the ruling party, and business people. Mozambique’s hotels are regularly crowded with business people from around the world looking to invest in the oil and natural gas the country has to offer.

Mozambique has an incredible economy, with one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, but the problem is that money is not being distributed among the rest of the country. The theory of trickle-down capitalism is not working here, because the rich who are making the most money are not investing it in their nation, they’re keeping it for themselves. Many people are upset about the corrupt practices in Mozambique, and that business interests often take precedence over the health and safety of citizens.

Experts argue that one of the biggest problems is a lack of a middle class. The nation is developing quickly, thus pushing some people to the very top of the class and leaving the rest at the very bottom. By investing in cheaper travel to encourage new growth that will build a middle class, they claim that the country can pull many of those living in poverty above the line. They also explain that the people of Mozambique need to begin to take charge and speak out against the corruption to become the change the country needs.

Katie Brockman
Source: allAfrica
Photo: Land Rover