Economic Research Forum (ERF)

November

Economic performance under different types of Turkish governments

Turkey has been ruled by a wide variety of governments over the past two-thirds of a century: single-party governments; coalitions partnered by two or more parties and by ideologically compatible and incompatible parties; and minority and military governments. This column explains why the order in which one type came after another was not accidental, but followed a pattern induced by coups. Economic performance under the different types of government has varied systematically.

State-business relations: the impact on firm performance and growth

Resource reallocation from low to high productivity firms can generate large aggregate productivity gains with further potential benefits for growth. This column reports evidence on productivity and resource misallocation in a sample of firms in Egypt, Turkey and Yemen from the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys. The main focus is on state-business relations and the impact on firm performance and economic growth.

Compulsory schooling in Turkey: a deterrent to teenage marriage and births

The extension of compulsory schooling in Turkey was motivated by concerns other than the welfare of teenage mothers and their children. But as this column reports, it has had the unintended effect of reducing teenage marriage and the number of children born to teenage women.

Sahel faces poverty and conflict traps: a call for international action

Conditions in the so-called G-5 countries of the Sahel – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – are grim. This Brookings column from late 2016 summarises a plea for international action. More funding for day-to-day security and for economic development is urgently needed. And the socio-cultural complexity of the region calls for a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together researchers, diplomats, ethnologists, humanitarians, and defence and development experts.

Leveraging the demographic transition in North Africa

By the standards of middle-income economies, Turkey, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean have very young populations – a demographic opportunity to achieve faster per capita income growth. This column, which draws on the EBRD’s latest Transition Report, argues that the key to taking advantage of the region’s current demographic profile is substantial investment in skills and education.

Inflation targeting versus nominal exchange rate targeting in MENA

Targeting inflation – a monetary policy strategy that has been successfully used in several developed countries – has become an increasingly attractive alternative to nominal exchange rate targeting in emerging economies. This column compares recent experiences with the two policy regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – and outlines the key requirements for the effective adoption of inflation targeting.

Tunisia’s labour market in an era of transition

Unemployment in Tunisia has been high for many years – and it is particularly prevalent among youth, women and people with higher levels of education. This column outlines the findings of a new book on the country’s labour market and the implications for policy-makers.

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Egypt’s care economy needs to address deteriorating working conditions

A robust and high-quality care economy is critical for supporting women’s employment – as both an employer of women and a mechanism for redistributing unpaid care work to the market. Yet in Egypt, despite national goals of expanding care services, employment in the sector has been shrinking, while becoming increasingly privatised. As this column reports, care jobs have also experienced worsening conditions of work, including reduced formality and the emergence of a pay penalty for care workers.

Unemployment among young women in GCC countries

The average rate of unemployment among young women in the high-income countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is far higher than the equivalent for young men. This column reports new evidence on the extent to which flexible labour markets, in the context of a generous social contract, can reduce female youth unemployment rates in the region.

Boosting trade through flexible rules of origin in preferential agreements

Rules of origin are critical components of preferential trade agreements designed to stop products coming in under insufficient transformation or through the partner that applies the lowest tariff. But in practice, these rules are often needlessly complex, undoing the benefits of market access associated with trade agreements. This column reports research showing that the adoption of more flexible product-specific rules of origin within preferential agreements would give a significant boost to global trade.

Challenges of GCC investment in the energy transition

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have identified the energy transition as a crucial area of growth and are investing heavily in a diverse array of projects. However, as this column explains, the region faces a number of challenges in making a success of these investments, most notably its current dependence on fossil fuels, a lack of infrastructure and technical expertise, the high upfront costs, and geopolitical tensions.

The decline of social insurance in Egypt: directions for reform

The longstanding challenge for the Egyptian economy of providing its workers with decent, formal, socially insured jobs has become even more difficult. As this column explains, informality has been rising rather than falling, with a substantial reduction in social insurance coverage for the employed since the late 1990s. Reforms are needed to reverse this decline.

Social insurance in Egypt: between costly formality and legal informality

The rates of participation of Egyptian workers in contributory social insurance has continued to decline, even during times when the country has had positive annual growth rates. This column discusses key institutional elements in the design of the current social insurance scheme that have contributed to the growing gap in coverage, particularly the scheme’s cost and eligibility requirements.

Making trade agreements more environmentally friendly in the MENA region

Trade policy can play a significant role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy. But as this column explains, there need to be more environmental provisions in trade agreements in which developing countries participate – and stronger legal enforcement of those provisions at the international level. The MENA region would benefit substantially from such changes.

Jordan: navigating through multiple crises

Jordan’s real GDP per capita is today no higher than it was 40 years ago. While external factors have undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the country’s economic outcomes, weak macroeconomic management and low public spending on investment and the social sectors have also played a substantial role. This column explores what can be done to reduce high public debt, accelerate private sector development and enhance social outcomes.

Egypt and Iraq: amenities, environmental quality and taste for revolution

The Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by significant political turbulence. This column explores a novel dimension of these upheavals: the relationship between people’s satisfaction with, on one hand, the amenities to which they have access and the environmental quality they experience, and, on the other hand, their inclination towards revolutionary actions. The data come from the World Value Survey collected in 2018 in Egypt and Iraq.

Iran’s globalisation and Saudi Arabia’s defence budget

How might Saudi Arabia react to Iran's renewed participation in global trade and investment? This column explores whether the expanding economic globalisation of Iran, following the lifting of nuclear sanctions, could yield a peace dividend for Saudi Arabia, consequently dampening the Middle East arms competition. These issues have attracted increased attention in recent times, notably after a pivotal agreement between the two countries in March 2023, marking the resumption of their political ties after a seven-year conflict.