There is a common view that managing Covid-19 is all about making a trade-off between lives and livelihoods. But as this column explains, comparing global performance, countries have tended to do well, or not, on both health and economics simultaneously. A key correlate of successful country performance is a high level of trust in government, which makes compliance with public health and social measures more efficient – and therefore minimises economic casualty.
The global pandemic is likely to affect the Middle East and North Africa directly for several years to come and indirectly for even longer. Yet as this Brookings column argues, countries in the region can emerge both better able to prevent such disasters in the future and with a set of more agile and responsive institutions that will help them to tackle other pernicious development challenges.
With negative and zero incomes being widely reported in household surveys, it is essential to understanding who is reporting them in order to generate a consistent ordering among households, and measure poverty and inequality accurately. This column summaries evidence from an investigation of the prevalence and consequences of non-positive incomes using 57 harmonised surveys covering 12 Mediterranean countries over the period 1995-2016.
To what extent is broadband in the Middle East and North Africa affordable, accessible and supportive of innovation? This column reviews the region’s digital readiness as reflected in the quality of broadband networks and their affordability, accessibility and usage.
Many women in the Middle East and North Africa are not in the paid labour force despite being highly educated. Good internet access and the global shift to telework as a result of the pandemic would seem to offer them opportunities for work and greater gender equality. But as this column warns, while online employment lowers barriers to getting women into paid work, it may fail to alter the unequal gender relations that underpin women’s reluctance to enter the paid labour force.
What has been the role of industrial policy in Tunisia’s export diversification of the past 25 years? This column reports research evidence on the dynamics of diversification since 1995 for primary and resource-based products as well as manufactured products. The authors show that contrary to the conventional view that the country has achieved limited success in moving up the technological ladder in terms of the diversification and sophistication of its exports, there has been extensive progress.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates face the dual shock of the pandemic and the oil price collapse. Drawing lessons from the European Union’s response to its sovereign debt crisis, this column proposes a stability mechanism for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council aimed at institutionalising solidarity and fiscal discipline among them. The mechanism would issue some special obligations and lend the proceeds at low rates to its members, requiring them to undertake economic reforms in return.