December 2022

IZA Policy Paper No. 196: The Labor Market in Ukraine: Rebuild Better

Giacomo Anastasia, Tito Boeri, Marianna Kudlyak, Oleksandr Zholud

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war have caused and continue causing damages of devastating proportions. We analyse the impact on the Ukrainian labor market and propose a framework for its rebuilding. The Ukrainian labour market needs not only to be rebuilt – it needs to be rebuilt better. The unprecedented challenges imposed by the reconstruction can be met by a labour market promoting labor market participation and easing the reallocation of workers across jobs. Reconstruction will require a mix of emergency measures dealing with the legacies of the war and structural reforms addressing pre-existing inefficiencies of the Ukrainian labour market. We illustrate the challenges in light of the experience of other European countries having gone through military conflicts in a recent past and propose strategies for action. The detailed proposals are consistent with a four-pronged strategy for reconstruction aimed at: investing in human capital for the future by offering remedial education to the pupils having lost years of education, and offering retraining to job losers still far from retirement; making a better use of existing human capital, increasing labour force participation of women and tackling youth unemployment among internally displaced workers; protecting the most vulnerable groups (job losers, veterans, fragile and older workers) in a sustainable fashion; promoting a return of ideas if not of people, involving in the reconstruction the human capital migrated abroad that will not return back home. These policies should be linked to the EU accession process: they will require technical assistance from European countries having longstanding experience with labour market policies at times of reallocation, and part of them could possibly be financed by instruments connected with EU accession.