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This brief by the ILO LAB identifies decent work deficits, explains how to put a market systems  approach into practice, and provides examples of successful projects.

The ILO defines decent work as " the aspiration that all women and men are able to work in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity."

A third of the global labour force are not earning enough to lift themselves and their families above the poverty line.

The underlying reasons for indecent work emerge out of:

  • the complex interplay of enterprise practices
  • market demand
  • business to business relationships
  • social norms and existing rules

Indecent work cannot be solved by training or new government regulation alone.

A market system is made up of the many ‘supporting functions’ and ‘rules’ shaping how well a market works for poor women and men. 

A market systems approach, in turn, seeks to identify, address and remove system-level constraints inhibiting the growth of more inclusive markets.