Economic Research Forum (ERF)

February

Dilemmas of public policy in resource-rich countries

Large endowments of natural resources can be both a blessing and a curse: the key to having them be the former rather than the latter lies in good institutions that limit the power of interest groups and kleptocrats. This column argues that reform-minded policy-makers must find ways in which practical and innovative policies can be carried out without invoking resistance from entrenched interests.

Informality during political turmoil: evidence from the Arab Spring

How was the balance between Egypt’s formal and informal economies affected by the political turmoil that accompanied the Arab Spring? This column reports research showing that the number of jobs with no contract or social security coverage has increased in recent decades, but particularly since the uprising in 2011. Educated young people have been hurt more than the less educated.

Investment climate and firms’ exports in Egypt: when politics matters

Despite significant reforms taken by the Egyptian government to liberalise markets and enhance the business environment, political factors continue to affect firms’ capacity to export. This column reports research on the impact of the overall investment climate on Egyptian exports in the manufacturing sector.

Education gains through compulsory schooling: evidence from Turkey

A policy reform in Turkey in 1997 extended the length of compulsory schooling from five to eight years, a measure that involved substantial public investment in school infrastructure. This column reports research on the effects of the extension on educational outcomes and, in particular, on the equality of these outcomes between men and women, and between residents of urban and rural areas.

Capital raising in the Arab world

How do firms in Arab countries use equity, corporate bond and syndicated loan markets to obtain finance? This column reports research that provides a first documentation of issuance in domestic and international markets over a 25-year period from the early 1990s.

The promise of Middle East sovereign wealth funds

A decade ago, Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) burst onto the global financial scene, raising eyebrows as they gobbled up assets in Europe and North America. But, as this Project Syndicate column argues, the world in which SWFs invest has changed, and they must change with it.

Life satisfaction in Arab countries

How do people in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia feel about their lives? Summarising analysis of data collected in nationally representative surveys, this column highlights three core messages about their reported health, happiness and views of the future.

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.