Economic Research Forum (ERF)

December

Low social and political returns to education in the Arab world

Arab societies urgently need to start looking at how to improve education systems, not just in ways to improve the marketability of individuals but, as importantly, to improve their social and political impact on society. Drawing on evidence from the World Values Survey, this column argues for strengthening a sense of community, beefing up values of civic engagement, inculcating democratic principles, supporting gender equality and promoting social tolerance.

Replace discretion with rules to boost economic performance

A government that adopts institutional reform to increase policy credibility and enhance the degree of competition may be rewarded with improved economic performance. This column reports the experience of Turkey in the early 2000s, a period in which anti-corruption and economic reform programmes that promoted more rule-based policy-making made significant positive contributions to growth.

Brain gain from return migration: evidence from Egypt

Far from causing ‘brain drain’ in the developing world, temporary migration can lead to a ‘brain gain’ for the sending countries. This column reports research on Egypt showing that migrants acquire significant human capital while they are overseas, which increases their probability of upward occupational mobility when they return home. This provides a potential source of economic growth for their country of origin.

Unemployment and the marginally attached

While the standard definition of unemployment is useful for international comparisons, it may not be adequate for assessing the degree of labour market attachment in many developing countries. This column reports evidence from Turkey that there is a significant group of ‘marginally attached’ individuals who appear to be non-participants in the labour market but are in fact ready for employment when work is available.

Better measures of the health of Egypt’s labour market

Policy discussions about the health of Egypt’s labour market focus almost exclusively on one indicator: the unemployment rate. This column argues that the unemployment rate is a poor indicator of the cyclical performance of the economy. What’s more, it focuses attention on the plight of a very specific group of people, who are not the most vulnerable to poor labour market conditions.

Fiscal rules: how to reduce pro-cyclical public spending

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.

Microcredit: choosing between inclusion and impact?

The microfinance industry continues to grow rapidly in the MENA region. This column reports research from across the world showing that giving people access to microcredit does not lead to significant declines in poverty. But while microcredit is not yet a powerful anti-poverty strategy, the evidence shows that it is a useful financial tool.

Video

Understanding the impact of the Syrian refugee influx on education in Jordan

Amman, 13 May 2018. H.E Dr. Omar Razzaz (Jordan Minister of Education) talks about the impact of the Syrian refugee influx on Jordan education

Most read

Fair competition is needed to empower women economically in the Arab world

The participation rates of women in the labour market in Arab countries are the lowest in the world. This column argues that remedying the under-representation of women in the labour force is a social and economic imperative for the region. There are three dimensions for action to realise the potential of Arab women: amending laws and regulations; instilling fair competition in markets; and promoting the digital economy.

Recession without impact: why Lebanese elites delay reform

The survival of Lebanon’s political elites is highly dependent on the wellbeing of the economy. Why then do they delay necessary reform to avoid crisis? This column examines the role of politically connected firms in delaying much-needed economic stabilisation policies.

Competition laws: a key role for economic growth in MENA

Competition policy lacks the attention it deserves in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region characterised by monopolies and lack of market contestability. As this column explains, there are many questions about the extent of anti-competitive barriers facing new market entrants in the region. What’s more, MENA’s weak overall performance on competition is likely to be hindering economic growth and the path towards structural transformation.

The future of Egypt’s population: opportunities and challenges

Egypt’s potential labour supply depends on the growth and changing composition of its working-age population. This column reports the latest data on labour supply and fertility rates, concluding that the country has a window of opportunity with reduced demographic pressures to try to address longstanding structural challenges for the labour market.

Formidable challenges facing the Middle East require a sea change in economic policies

Weakening global growth, endemic conflicts and increased tensions within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and rapid demographic shifts – are likely to have an adverse impact on the region’s economic, social and political stability in the coming years. This column outlines the policy responses that are needed to avert disaster.

Domestic demand and competition: a new development paradigm for MENA

A lack of competition in domestic and regional markets is holding back development in the Middle East and North Africa. This column argues that the region and the international community must ensure that barriers to market entry and exit are eliminated, and that independent regulatory bodies at the national and regional levels help to promote domestic demand as the main engine for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Effects of urbanisation on productivity and wages: evidence from Turkey

Are the substantial productivity gains associated with larger cities in developed countries similar for developing countries? This column provides evidence on urbanised economies in the non-Western world by focusing on Turkey, a country that has experienced fast urbanisation and a high rate of growth of the urban population.

How import dependence could lead to corruption in MENA

Export-led development strategies have had little success in MENA countries; what’s more, instruments of earlier import-substitution strategies – such as state-owned enterprises, high tariffs and subsidies – have survived. As this column explains, these legacies have created crony-capitalist industries that have limited the level of competition in many sectors of the economy and furthered the region’s dependence on imports.

Gender discrimination in small business lending: evidence from Turkey

Discrimination in access to financial services can prevent women from exploiting their entrepreneurial potential. This column reports on a ‘lab-in-the-field’ experiment to test for the presence of gender discrimination in small business lending in Turkey.

Social security for young workers in Arab countries

Social security coverage of young workers in Arab countries is low – in part because many are employed in informal jobs; and in part because they do not see the value of the system. This column reports survey evidence on young workers’ attitudes towards participation in both social security and politics. It also explores policy reforms that might make access to social security universal for young workers.