Despite the popular movements for freedom and justice in several Arab countries a little over a decade ago, the region continues to be classified at the bottom of the world table of democracy. Nevertheless, this column argues, the uprisings have rung in the changes of an inevitable and deep-seated political and economic transformation in the Arab region: a change in the social contract is in the making, though its path and inception time remain uncertain.
Any post-uprisings transformation leading to lasting national peace in Arab countries will be conditional on laying the foundations for inclusive socio-economic development in the context of a genuinely democratic environment. This column, which summarises a forthcoming multi-authored ERF book explores how these goals can be achieved.
How effective are lockdowns and social distancing measures in containing the spread of Covid-19 and how quickly should they be adopted? This column reports cross-country evidence on eight different coronavirus containment measures in flattening the epidemiological curve of the pandemic and reducing contagion and fatality rates.
Fiscal pro-cyclicality is a defining trait of many MENA countries and other emerging economies: public spending typically rises in good times and falls in bad times. This column reports research on the effectiveness of fiscal rules in countering this widespread tendency. The evidence from 120 countries over a 30-year period indicates that rules on government expenditure can reduce the pro-cyclicality of public spending by around 40% on average.