Evidence Based Policy for the Saudi Labor Market

On October 25, 2016, Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), in coordination with the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD+) of Saudi Arabia, hosted a research symposium on Evidence Based Policy for the Saudi Labor Market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Symposium highlighted the value of a unique collaboration between EPoD and HRDF, which aims to generate rigorous empirical research that directly informs labor market policy and program design in Saudi Arabia. 

Minister of Labor and Social Development, Mufarrej Al Haqbani, addresses guests.

Presentations showcased a wide range of ongoing and newly approved research projects funded through the engagement, and were led by an impressive group of university faculty and their policy counterparts within MLSD+.

The symposium attracted more than 200 participants, including leading researchers, Saudi university faculty, MLSD+ senior leadership, senior civil servants, and leaders from the private and non-profit sectors. Keynote speakers included EPoD co-directors Rema Hanna and Asim Khwaja, as well as Harvard Kennedy School Dean Doug Elmendorf and the Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufarrej Al Haqbani. 

Following the morning presentations, symposium participants joined one of five research working groups, each focusing on a specific topic within labor and social development. Group participants discussed current labor market constraints, and worked to identify new opportunities for academic research to contribute meaningfully to the policy design process. Discussion topics ranged from catalyzing entrepreneurship through new incentives to designing innovative social insurance schemes. EPoD is currently accepting applications for its next round of projects under the engagement on these and other topics outlined in our RFP announcement (here).

Rema Hanna, co-director of EPoD, presents her research on catalyzing female employment in Saudi Arabia.

The symposium was unique in that it brought together a remarkably diverse group of senior leaders interested in leveraging a rigorous, evidence-based approach to improve labor market policies and solve some of the toughest labor market challenges facing Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. Active engagement of the full spectrum of labor market stakeholders is critical, and we look forward to combining their energy and experience with the expertise of our research teams and policy counterparts to achieve meaningful policy impact. For more information, please contact epod_rfp@hks.harvard.edu.