Economic Research Forum (ERF)

April

Was public free mass education detrimental to Egypt’s human capital?

Since the early 1950s, when schools in Egypt opened their doors to the masses, some have expressed concerns that the country has somehow suffered from this educational expansion. This column explains the reality of the reform effort: that it was the last step in a century-long public programme that accelerated following the 1923 constitution and its requirement that compulsory education be provided for every Egyptian child. All in all, the provision of free mass education increased student enrolment and improved, on average, the educational and occupational outcomes of the masses.

Attitudes towards gender equality in Arab countries

The position of women has fluctuated considerably in the recent history of the MENA region. But in general, Arab countries rank lower on gender equality than other societies at a comparable level of development. This column reports evidence on changing social attitudes towards gender across generations in a number of these countries, as well as the impact of the political regimes they have experienced over the past 50 years.

Guidelines for cost-effective public procurement: lessons from Turkey

Cost-effectiveness is the key objective in public procurement auctions. This column reports analysis and evidence from Turkey on how best that can be achieved through attracting the optimal number of bidders for a given contract and by encouraging bids from new entrants. The author provides an easy-to-use methodology for policy-makers in developing and developed countries.

Domestic violence reduced by better education: evidence from Turkey

A policy change in Turkey in 1997 raised the number of years that children are required to be at school from five to eight. This column reports research that uses this reform of compulsory education to estimate the effect of education on domestic violence against women. The results indicate that additional schooling makes men less prone to abuse of their spouses.

Iran’s long economic journey

The landslide re-election of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, in 2017 reflects the by now familiar pattern of continuity and change that has characterised Iran’s major elections over the last two decades. But, as this Project Syndicate column explains, it also stands out in one key way: Rouhani has remained popular despite pursuing painful macroeconomic stabilisation. Now he needs to look beyond current conditions to address entrenched structural challenges facing the Iranian economy.

A sustainable economy for the Arab world

Building a sustainable economy is an urgent imperative for policy-makers, businesses, and citizens throughout the Arab world. This Project Syndicate column says that it won’t be easy, but the region has plenty of experience overcoming even the most difficult challenges.

When is debt a drag on economic growth?

Is there a tipping point for public indebtedness beyond which growth drops off significantly; and does a build-up of public debt slow the economy in the long run? This column reports the results of an empirical analysis of these questions for 40 advanced and developing economies over nearly half a century.

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.