Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Sustained and inclusive economic growth is a prerequisite for sustainable development, which can contribute to improved livelihoods for people around the world. Economic growth can lead to new and better employment opportunities and provide greater economic security for all. Moreover, rapid growth, especially among the least developed and other developing countries, can help them reduce the wage gap relative to developed countries, thereby diminishing glaring inequalities between the rich and poor.

Increased economic growth is needed to meet the target of 7 per cent GDP growth in the least developed countries

In the period 2010-2014, the global average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita was 1.6 per cent, slightly below the rate achieved over the period of 2000−2004. The growth rate of countries in developing regions was more than triple that of developed regions (4.1 per cent versus 1.3 per cent, respectively), yet the rates for both regions were below their historical averages. This suggests that much work remains to achieve the goal of sustained and inclusive economic growth. The challenge is particularly steep for the least developed countries, whose per capita growth accelerated for a time, but has since slowed to only 2.6 per cent on average during 2010-2014, less than half the target rate of at least 7 per cent a year.

Average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita, 2000–2004, 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 (percentage)

Labour productivity in developing regions, despite improvements, remains far below that of developed regions

Growth in labour productivity in developing regions outpaced that of developed regions, especially in Asia. That said, the productivity of workers in the poorest regions is still only a small fraction of that of workers in the developed world. Workers in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are only about 5 per cent as productive as those in developed regions, when measured as a percentage of GDP. Even the developing region with the highest labour productivity, Western Asia, has only about 40 per cent of the labour productivity of developed regions, and this rate has declined slightly since 2000.

Labour productivity (GDP per worker) in constant 2005 US dollars, 2005 and 2015 (Thousands of US$)

Women are 15 per cent more likely to be unemployed than men worldwide, but the gender gap is far larger in Northern Africa and Western Asia

Global unemployment rate stood at 6.1 per cent in 2015, down from a peak of 6.6 per cent in 2009. Unemployment was lowest in Southern, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, below 5 per cent, compared to other regions of the world, where the average was around 7 per cent or higher. Globally, women are more likely to be unemployed than men. Differences are most striking in Western Asia and Northern Africa, where the unemployment rate of women is more than twice that of men.

Unemployment rates by sex, 2015 (percentage)

While the share of adults with bank accounts rose by 20 per cent in four years, some two billion people still lack this important financial service

Between 2011 and 2014, the proportion of the world’s adult population with an account at a financial institution or a mobile money service increased from 51 per cent to 62 per cent, meaning that 700 million adults became account holders during this period. However, 2 billion adults worldwide still lack an account at a financial institution. Financial exclusion disproportionately affected women and the poor. The proportion of women who are account holders is 9 percentage points lower than the proportion of men account holders. Moreover, the proportion of account holders among the poorest 40 per cent of households is 14 percentage points lower than among those living in the richest 60 per cent of households.

Percentage of the world’s adult population that has an account at a financial institution, 2011 and 2014, (percentage)