Our press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance, as well as mentions in the media. Output for February includes nine working papers, a policy brief and a journal paper, covering among others things nanotech cancer therapies, semiconductor life cycles, and R&D constraints and patent quality. Our research spans the globe, covering more than 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and several more across Central and East Asia.
‘Political versus Economic Institutions in the Growth Process’ defines the various ways in which economic and political institutions affect growth. Using data for developed and developing economies from 1975–2005, this paper finds that political institutions are a key determinant of regime membership, but have no direct impact on growth within regimes. In contrast, economic institutions affect growth within regimes and are particularly important for countries with weak political institutions. By Dr. Maty Konte et al.
‘Technology life cycle and specialization patterns of latecomer countries. The case of the semiconductor industry’ sheds light on the relationship between technology life cycle and the specialization patterns of new and incumbent innovators. To define the life cycle of semiconductor technologies, this working paper develops a methodology based on the age composition of different areas and the characteristics of their technological trajectories. Results show that up to the end of the 1990s firms from Taiwan, Korea and Singapore specialized mainly in areas at the later stages of their life cycles, whereas US and Japanese firms were comparatively better in younger areas. By PhD fellow Giorgio Triulzi.
‘Patents as quality signals? The implications for financing constraints on R&D’ studies the effects of patenting activity for a panel of established firms. This working paper finds that patents do indeed attenuate financing constraints for small firms where information asymmetries may be particularly high and collateral value is low. The authors conclude that larger firms are not only less subject to financing constraints, but also do not seem to benefit from a patent quality signal. By Prof. Bronwyn Hall et al.
‘Firms’ adoption of international standards: Evidence from the Ethiopian floriculture sector’ uses a census-based panel dataset from the Ethiopian floriculture sector to investigate the uptake of international private standards. This working paper also analyses the overall efforts of industry and public–private partnerships to launch and roll out a national scheme for Good Agricultural Practice. By Dr. Mulu Gebreeyesus.
‘Gender difference in support for democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Do social institutions matter?’ looks at why women in Sub-Saharan Africa tend to support democracy less than men. Published jointly by UNU-MERIT and UNU-WIDER, this working paper studies the gender gap in terms of institutions that limit women’s social and domestic autonomy. The author provides evidence that women living in countries with laws favourable to them are more supportive of democracy than women who do not. In turn, this suggests that democratic regimes may be more willing than authoritarian regimes to protect laws that are “friendly” to women. By Dr. Maty Konte.
‘Tipping points? Ethnic composition change in Dutch big city neighbourhoods’ analyses the evolution of neighbourhood ethnic composition and tests the potential ‘tipping point’ in neighbourhood ethnic composition, beyond which ‘white flight’ (or the departure of native or advantaged households) occurs. Using three conurbation samples in the Netherlands, this working paper found that the share in neighbourhood population of native Dutch and western minority did not exhibit the hypothesised ‘tipping’ behaviour in its growth rate with respect to initial share of non-western minority. The author argued that the large social housing sector, centralised tax regime, and strong regulatory role of the state in housing and urban planning, are the main explanatory factors for the relative constancy in Dutch neighbourhood ethnic composition. By PhD fellow Cheng Boon Ong.
‘Poor trends – The pace of poverty reduction after the Millennium Development Agenda’ argues that the World Bank’s goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is highly unlikely. After examining the origins of the dollar-a-day poverty line and providing a historical overview of poverty and inequality trends, the working paper uses a new fractional response approach to offer a forecast of poverty rates until 2030. The three main findings indicate that global poverty reduction since 1981 has been rapid but regional trends are heterogeneous; the pace of poverty reduction at 1.25$ a day will slow down, turning around 8-9 per cent in 2030; rapid progress can be maintained at 2$ a day, with an additional one billion people crossing that line by 2030. By PhD fellow Richard Bluhm and Prof. Adam Szirmai et al.
‘School choice, segregation, and forced school closure’ exploits the forced closure of primary schools to examine the school choice of students in three segregated Amsterdam schools. The working paper aims to contribute to the under-researched school choice literature for minority students in Western Europe and to provide some unique insights that could aid future policymaking namely, after an external shock of school closure. The study results that for various reasons, the vast majority of the students who were forced to change schools chose to move en bloc to one school – an unintended and undesired policy outcome. The authors recommend that similar policy interventions in the future should account for these school choice determinants, i.e. by ensuring the availability of desirable school substitutes to students, during the policymaking process. By PhD fellow Cheng Boon Ong et al.
‘Path-breaking directions of nanotechnology-based chemotherapy and molecular cancer therapy’ analyses the trajectories of nanotechnologies applied to path-breaking cancer treatments in order to detect likely successful anticancer treatments based on nanotechnology and pinpoint fruitful directions in nanomedicine. This working paper shows new directions of nanotechnology-based chemotherapy and molecular cancer therapy in new treatments for breast, lung, brain and colon cancers. Results reveal that the sharp increase of several technological trajectories of nanotechnologies and anticancer drugs seems to be driven by high rates of mortality of some types of cancers (e.g. pancreatic and brain) in the search for more effective anticancer therapies that increase the survival of patients. The study also shows that global research leaders specialize in nanotechnology applications for specific types of cancer. By Dr. Lili Wang et al.
‘Watching a World in Motion: Reflections on the IS Academy Project’ gathers the main findings of the IS Academy Final Conference, held by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance from 22-24 January 2014. This was the culmination of a five-year research project into the complex relationships between migration and development, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project involved survey data collection in five sites – Afghanistan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Morocco and the Netherlands – and focused on remittances, return migration, the highly skilled and the external dimension of EU mobility policy. This policy brief presents a number of recommendations for the future of migration and development research and the shaping of policy in this area. By research assistant Georgina Sturge, researcher Elaine McGregor and Dr. Melissa Siegel.
‘Why are women less democratic than men? Evidence from Sub-Saharan African countries’ attempts to explain why females are less supportive of democracy than males in a number of countries. Using data for 20 Sub-Saharan African countries, this working paper tests whether the gap is due to individual differences in policy priorities or to country-wide characteristics. The authors find that controlling for individual policy priorities does not offset the gender gap, but those women who are interested in politics are more democratic than men. Furthermore, results indicate that the gap disappears in countries with high levels of human development and political rights. By Dr. Maty Konte et al.
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