/SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote lasting, broad-based and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

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Friedrich Hinterberger
Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien
Tel.: +43 699 19 69 07

The Agenda 2030

Economic growth is a goal often and largely uncontested by Austrian politicians, but surprisingly not very present in the current government programme. Here it is to be discussed how high per capita economic growth should be “appropriate to the Austrian circumstances”. An alternative target formulation is proposed: the economy should grow to an extent that has a positive impact on people's quality of life, takes ecological limits into account and leaves room for countries that have not yet industrialised.

"Productivity", which is addressed in Targets 8.2 and 8.4, describes the relationship between input (production factor used) and output (result of production). Depending on the factor of production, we speak of e.g. labour, capital, land or resource productivity.

Full employment is one of the most important goals of Austrian economic policy. When the topic of "full" employment is addressed, it is important to specify what "full" refers to. This refers to the number of people in employment, but also to the amount of time worked (per week, year, or lifetime).

The terms "care" and "care work" are used to describe relationships, activities and work in self-care and care, which serve the individual and social reproduction of life and are always necessary in everyday life as well as biographically, in specific phases of life and are therefore often described today as systemically relevant.

SDG 8 Targets:*

8.1 Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries

8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors

8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services

8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead

8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms

8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment

8.9 By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products

8.10 Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all

8.a Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries

8.b By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization

*All targets will be scientifically screened by UniNEtZ and options for meeting this target by 2030 will be developed for this purpose.

Situation in Austria

"Promoting sustainable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all" is the German formulation of this goal. The two issues of "decent work" and "economic growth" interact very strongly with all other issues addressed in the SDGs. Particularly important are the links with environmental protection and sustainability (SDGs 12, 13, 15) and distribution issues (SDGs 1 and 10).

The economic growth of the last six decades has historically been an absolute exception. While the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has quadrupled in the last 60 years, the current weak growth cannot be explained by the current situation alone, but reflects a long-term declining development.

The flip side of the rising economic output is the consumption of resources, which in Austria is clearly above the European average. While each person in gainful employment works on average about the size of a full-time job, the seven billion hours of gainful employment per capita of the population only amount to about 10 hours per week on average. In addition, most people also perform unpaid work to a highly varying extent: from bringing up children and caring for them to involvement in civil society organisations.

The share of young people who are neither in education nor gainfully employed is relatively low in comparison to the rest of Europe.

Option report

(based on the options report to be published)

The options elaborated by the SDG groups are to serve as a means of communicating to the federal government which concrete options can be set by Austria in order to implement the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The options report will be published on 02.12.2021.

  • Option 8.1: New measurement of progress beyond GDP
  • Option 8.2: Investment programme to address the Covid 19 economic crisis
  • Option 8.3: "Factor X": improving resource efficiency through fiscal and regulatory measures
  • Option 8.4: Phase out transatlantic soy imports, reduce pork production, consumption and waste
  • Option 8.5: Lifetime full-time work redistribution: reduction to 50,000 h as a basis for redistribution of work (incl. care work)
  • Option 8.6: Redistribution of care and care work
  • Option 8.7: Education is the new work, work is the new education