Towards a National Jobs Strategy for Kuwait: Behavioral Jobs Diagnostic Study

This report presents a diagnostic study of barriers to private sector participation focusing on young Kuwaitis. The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), Kuwait Public Policy Centre (KPPC) and the World Bank’s behavioral science team, the Mind, Behavior, and Development Unit (eMBeD), partnered to conduct a series of data collection activities seeking to identify key structural and behavioral barriers that prevent higher youth participation in the private sector. The right of every Kuwaiti to work is mentioned in Articles 26 and 41 of the Constitution and in various Emiri decrees. The Constitution also commits to state provision of allowances for housing, health care, education, as well as social security, pensions, and disability benefits. Overall, Kuwaiti citizens tend to consider public sector employment to be superior to private sector employment. Reasons for this include greater job security, less burdensome responsibilities, generous pay and benefits, and shorter working hours in the public sector compared to private sector (Towards a National Jobs Strategy in Kuwait, 2021). Given this, there is limited incentive for Kuwaitis to work in the private sector. Indeed, Kuwaiti nationals account for only 4.3 percent of the private sector workforce (Labor Market Information System, 2019), the majority of which is made up of expatriates. The public sector, on the other hand, employs 76 percent of Kuwaiti citizens (Labor Market Information System, 2019). However, the sustainability and efficiency of this system is more than ever under question. High population growth and expected entry of many Kuwaiti nationals into the jobs market by 2022 is putting pressure on public sector employment, and the rising wage bill presents further fiscal challenges (International Monetary Fund, 2019). Public sector entities, which are under pressure to absorb these entrants, are already overstaffed.