Economic Research Forum (ERF)

October

Energy subsidy reform: progress and challenges

Despite a growing global consensus about the need for reform of costly and environmentally damaging energy price subsidies, many countries remain resistant. This column takes stock of recent developments in the context of a database of diesel prices. Environmental concerns seem to play a role in driving reform, but most reforming countries have been facing large fiscal imbalances.

Creating jobs: East Asian success and MENA failure

Comparing the experiences of MENA and East Asia in recent decades reveals the delicate nature of the latter’s remarkable structural transformation: several parts of the economy had to be pulling in the same direction. This column explains how East Asia succeeded – and MENA failed – in generating productive employment.

Inequality in higher education: Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia

Attainment of higher education is strikingly unequal in Egypt and Tunisia, and a little less so in Jordan. This column reports research showing that in all three countries, family background is the primary driver of inequality. Particularly in Egypt and Tunisia, public spending on higher education is regressive, with the result that what purports to be a meritocratic and equitable system in reality perpetuates inequality.

Going beyond Doing Business to foster job creation

The World Bank’s Doing Business rankings provide a useful benchmark, but making them a key policy goal is inappropriate for Arab countries where the reform agenda needs to be far more wide-ranging. This column argues for a more practical and effective approach to creating business environments that will attract investment and foster job creation.

Inequality underestimated in Egypt: evidence from house prices

Standard estimates of income and consumption inequality rank Egypt as one of the world’s most equal countries. By analysing data on house prices to obtain a more accurate estimate of the top tail of the income distribution, this column presents evidence that Egyptian inequality is considerably underestimated.

Public procurement: the value of making global commitments

The World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement aims to ensure that public procurements in signatory countries are conducted in a competitive, non-discriminatory and transparent manner satisfying the conditions of integrity. This column reports research showing that the agreement promotes competition, reduces corruption and delivers better value for taxpayers’ money.

Lessons and pitfalls of transitions to democracy

Under what circumstances is a country most likely to make a successful transition to democracy? This column outlines the roles of both human agency and structural factors such as class or economic interests. Key to the process of democratisation is the kind of incentives that encourage elite groups in society to reach compromises even in the face of ideological differences.

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.

Arab countries are caught in an inequality trap

Conventional wisdom, based mainly on surveyed household income distribution statistics, suggests that inequality is generally low in Arab countries. At the same time, little attention has been devoted to social inequalities, whether in terms of outcomes or opportunities. This column introduces a forthcoming report, which offers a different narrative: based on the largest research project on the subject to date and covering 12 Arab countries, the authors argue that the region is caught in an inequality trap.

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 Egyptian economy is still not creating good jobs

Growth in Egypt has recovered substantially since the downturn following the global financial crisis and the political instability following the 2011 revolution – but what has happened to jobs? This column reports the results on employment conditions from just released data in the 2018 wave of the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey.

How Egyptian households cope with shocks: new evidence

Managing risks and reducing vulnerability to economic, social, environmental and health shocks enhances the wellbeing of households and encourages investment in human capital. This column explores the nature of shocks experienced by Egyptian households as well as the coping mechanisms that they use. It also examines the relationship between such risks and job formality and health status.

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.

Egypt’s labour market: facts and prospects

An ERF policy conference on the Egyptian labour market in late October 2019 focused on gender and economic vulnerability. This column summarises the key takeaways from the event.

An appeal for Sudan’s future

Sudan today is on a knife-edge: it can evolve toward peace and democracy – or spiral into instability and violence. As this Project Syndicate column argues, vital and timely international assistance can make the difference between success and failure for the new government.

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.