Sri Lanka

Employer-supported Childcare: A Solution to Labour Shortages?

Most Sri Lankan families are struggling to meet the costs of childcare. A vast majority of women who wish to be employed do not enter the labour market due to the lack of quality and affordable childcare. Even low-income families have to bear the high cost of childcare due to the absence of affordable childcare arrangements. Despite a growing need for childcare, for many women, finding quality and affordable childcare is difficult and childcare costs are very high. At the same time, faced with labour shortages employers are struggling to attract women to the workforce. Some companies have tried to overcome this problem by offering childcare at the workplace. This blog, based on an IPS study, tries to assess the feasibility of employer-assisted child care by estimating the willingness of women to pay for such childcare.

COVID-19 and the Burden of Child Undernutrition in Sri Lanka

The nutritional status of children under five in Sri Lanka has not shown a significant improvement for the last 20 years. It has also been lagging behind most of the other health and social indicators on children. IPS research shows that household income, inadequate nutrient intake, breastfeeding practices, mothers’ education, etc., play a major role in child undernutrition in Sri Lanka. Moreover, given significant losses in household income experienced at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic, nutrient intake may have declined further over the past year. As such, it would be a challenging task for health planners to develop effective strategies to minimise undernutrition among children under five years. This article highlights some of the facts contributing to child undernutrition in Sri Lanka and suggests ways to address this critical issue.

Sri Lanka’s Labour Market Amidst COVID-19: The Need for Targetted Interventions

Lockdowns and restricted mobility have devastated labour markets across the world. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the equivalent of 225 million jobs was wiped out globally due to employment and working hour losses in 2020 compared to 2019 (Q4). These working hour losses are four times higher than those experienced during the global financial crisis in 2009. The COVID-19-instigated recession has affected the quantity and the quality of jobs, with increasing levels of informal types of work with lower remuneration. Restoration of labour markets is important to minimise damage to human development and increase aggregate demand, thereby boosting economic recovery. This blog looks at why it is important to have targetted policy interventions to revive the labour market by illustrating that the impact of COVID-19 is different across occupations and industries.

COVID-19 and Sri Lanka’s External Sector: Challenges and Policy Choices

Unprecedented declines in merchandise trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, tourism and cross-border migration have all been hallmarks of the economic fallout of COVID-19. As a result, growth expectations for countries worldwide dimmed. Nonetheless, thanks in part to substantial expansionary monetary and fiscal policies being rolled out to achieve pre-COVID economic recovery levels and the development of vaccines, the contraction in global trade and economic output are less than what was anticipated. The Sri Lankan economy too has been impacted by these external developments, witnessing fluctuating fortunes in its external sector performance. This blog discusses the impacts of global economic developments on Sri Lanka’s external sector and suggests ways to cushion them.

Mitigating Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 Education Crisis: Priority Areas for Action

The year 2020 saw close to 1.6 billion students from over 180 countries being kept out of schools for extended periods of time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite commendable efforts by many countries to put in place alternative remote learning strategies and corrective measures, learning losses have been unavoidable and substantial.

In this second year of the pandemic, many countries are moving from emergency responses towards policies aimed at recovery. Along with reopening schools and resuming education, these also include tailored support to help students adjust to learning in the new normal, and remedial measures to make up for lost learning.

Sri Lankan schools have been largely dysfunctional for over 15 months since initial closures in March 2020, despite some brief periods of operation. This blog examines policy responses adopted in Sri Lanka’s education sector over the past year, with a view of informing its future education recovery strategy in 2021 and beyond.