Economic Research Forum (ERF)

About the forum

The forum – is a new policy portal launched by the  Economic Research Forum (ERF) in October 2017 to promote  quality debates and ideas in the region which are evidence and research based. a It aims to become “the platform” for rich and relevant debates in the region on economic, social and political development issues. It provides a carefully edited platform that offers a ‘space’ in the debate, somewhere between what newspapers are prepared to publish and what scientific journals can provide.  It includes summaries of research papers as well as research-based commentaries on issues relevant for the ERF region, at the national, regional and international level. As an outlet for researchers, policy-makers and development practitioners, it allows the airing of policy insights, views and arguments based either on an existing body of original research or to comment on unfolding events. It is open to contributors from the region and from outside, and publishes columns of up to 1,000 words in both English and Arabic.

Editorial Board
Co-managing editors
Founding contributors
The forum communications team

 

Submissions

Most of the forum columns are commissioned directly by the co-managing editors, but the forum posts a few unsolicited columns. Leading economists who are interested in writing a “research-based policy analysis and commentary” are encouraged to communicate directly with the co-managing editors. For more details on submission, please click here

Quality

The forum provides access to “research based policy analysis and commentary” from a very broad range of experts and research. Our editors include articles they think are relevant, timely and valuable to advance the region’s economic and development agenda but that should not be seen as either an endorsement of the quality of the research, expertise or policy options. The views expressed in the articles are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the forum, ERF, our partners or funders.

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Most read

Social insurance in Egypt: between costly formality and legal informality

The rates of participation of Egyptian workers in contributory social insurance has continued to decline, even during times when the country has had positive annual growth rates. This column discusses key institutional elements in the design of the current social insurance scheme that have contributed to the growing gap in coverage, particularly the scheme’s cost and eligibility requirements.

Making trade agreements more environmentally friendly in the MENA region

Trade policy can play a significant role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy. But as this column explains, there need to be more environmental provisions in trade agreements in which developing countries participate – and stronger legal enforcement of those provisions at the international level. The MENA region would benefit substantially from such changes.

Jordan: navigating through multiple crises

Jordan’s real GDP per capita is today no higher than it was 40 years ago. While external factors have undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the country’s economic outcomes, weak macroeconomic management and low public spending on investment and the social sectors have also played a substantial role. This column explores what can be done to reduce high public debt, accelerate private sector development and enhance social outcomes.

Iran’s globalisation and Saudi Arabia’s defence budget

How might Saudi Arabia react to Iran's renewed participation in global trade and investment? This column explores whether the expanding economic globalisation of Iran, following the lifting of nuclear sanctions, could yield a peace dividend for Saudi Arabia, consequently dampening the Middle East arms competition. These issues have attracted increased attention in recent times, notably after a pivotal agreement between the two countries in March 2023, marking the resumption of their political ties after a seven-year conflict.

Egypt and Iraq: amenities, environmental quality and taste for revolution

The Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by significant political turbulence. This column explores a novel dimension of these upheavals: the relationship between people’s satisfaction with, on one hand, the amenities to which they have access and the environmental quality they experience, and, on the other hand, their inclination towards revolutionary actions. The data come from the World Value Survey collected in 2018 in Egypt and Iraq.

Global value chains and domestic innovation: evidence from MENA firms

Global interlinkages play a significant role in enhancing innovation by firms in developing countries. In particular, as this column explains, participation in global value chains fosters a variety of innovation activities. Since some countries in the Middle East and North Africa display a downward trend on measures of global innovation, facilitating the GVC participation of firms in the region is a prospective channel for stimulating underperforming innovation.

Labour market effects of robots: evidence from Turkey

Evidence from developed countries on the impact of automation on labour markets suggests that there can be negative effects on manufacturing jobs, but also mechanisms for workers to move into the services sector. But this narrative may not apply in developing economies. This column reports new evidence from Turkey on the effects of robots on labour displacement and job reallocation.

Food insecurity in Tunisia during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Labour market instability, rising unemployment rates and soaring food prices due to Covid-19 are among the reasons for severe food insecurity across the world. This grim picture is evident in Tunisia, where the government continues to provide financial and food aid to vulnerable households after the pandemic. But as this column explains, the inadequacy of some public policies is another important factors causing food insecurity.

Do capital inflows cause industrialisation or de-industrialisation?

There is a clear appeal for emerging and developing economies, including those in MENA, to finance investment in manufacturing industry at home with capital inflows from overseas. But as the evidence reported in this column indicates, this is a potentially risky strategy: rather than promoting industrialisation, capital flows can actually lead to lower manufacturing value added and/or a reallocation of resources towards industries with lower technology intensity.

Manufacturing firms in Egypt: trade participation and outcomes for workers

International trade can play a large and positive role in boosting economic growth, reducing poverty and making progress towards gender equality. These effects result in part from the extent to which trade is associated with favourable labour market outcomes. This column presents evidence of the effects of Egyptian manufacturing firms’ participation in exporting and importing on their workers’ productivity and average wages, and on women’s employment share.