While most African countries have been largely spared so far from the direct health effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, the continent’s economy has been significantly hurt by the economic consequences. This is particularly concerning given Africa’s high prevalence of extreme poverty. This column introduces a new eBook from CEPR Press, which focuses on business and household responses to the Covid-19 crisis in Africa, as well as access to international finance, patterns in international borrowing and country-specific experiences during the pandemic.
Efforts to create digital government in the Middle East and North Africa are typically perceived as technical support activities and not as a core strategic component of public sector activities. As this column explains, the alternative would be that e-governance is value-driven instead of technology-driven: it should become an enabler of sustainable development.
Disease outbreaks like Ebola and Covid-19 have strong detrimental effects on mortality rates for mothers, infants and young children in low and middle-income countries, both immediately and in the longer term. As this column explains, strengthening preparedness for such emergencies has become more urgent as health disasters continue to erode recent improvements in maternal and child health.
Production processes and distribution systems have become increasingly fragmented across countries since the 1990s. Many large economies have benefitted from this phenomenon of ‘global value chains’, but as this column explains, the story may be different for developing countries. Empirical evidence from Turkey reveals positive productivity and growth effects of linkages, but damaging effects of backward participation on industries.
Although the aggregate level of income inequality in Egypt seems to be relatively low and stable, the figures are likely to mask large inequalities at the regional level. This column summarises new evidence on differences in income inequality across governorates, the extent to which those differences are narrowing and the effects on different parts of the income distribution.
How is the Covid-19 crisis affecting jobs and business in the MENA region? This column reports evidence from mobile phone surveys carried out in November in Morocco and Tunisia. The results, reported in a new ERF Policy Brief, indicate that vulnerable workers, small entrepreneurs and farmers have borne the brunt of the pandemic.
Countries like Egypt with significant gender imbalances in unpaid work typically have low female labour force participation. As this column reports, unpaid domestic care responsibilities fall primarily on women, hindering their ability to participate in the country’s paid economy. It is essential to nurture changes in policies and social norms that recognise and redistribute unpaid care work and reward paid care work.