What are the best safeguards against hunger and poverty in rural Sub-Saharan Africa? What are the latest strategies to support innovation policy in developing countries? And how can migrant workers be guaranteed protection in the Middle East? These are just a few of the questions tackled by our researchers in December 2016 — in eight working papers, seven journal articles, and six PhD theses, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Measuring Innovation in the Informal Economy – Formulating an Agenda’ proposes a measurement agenda to capture informal or developing country innovation, its drivers and related barriers.The suggestions in this paper are intended to lay important groundwork for future empirical work, for the development of appropriate indicators and to support new approaches to innovation policy in developing countries. By Prof. Fred Gault et al.
‘Sectoral Cognitive Skills, R&D, and Productivity: A Cross-Country Cross-Sector Analysis’ focuses on human capital measured by education outcomes (skills) and establishes the relationship between human capital, R&D investments, and productivity across 12 OECD economies and 17 manufacturing and service industries. The study corroborates the positive link between R&D investments and labour productivity. This evidence calls for a focus on educational outcomes (rather than on mere school attainment); it suggests that using a measure of average sectoral cognitive skills can represent a major step forward in any kind of future sectoral growth accounting exercise. By PhD fellow Simone Sasso and Prof. Jo Ritzen.
‘Technological spillovers and industrial growth in Chinese regions’ examines the role of interregional technology spillovers in the process of industrial growth in Chinese regions from 1990 till 2005. The article finds that inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) increased rapidly between 1990 and 1998 and after 2001. Domestic capital investment increased even more rapidly than FDI, resulting in declining FDI intensity from 1995 onward. Domestic research and development (R&D) investment accelerated after 1998, while regional industrial growth benefited from interregional R&D spillovers. From 1998 onward, it also benefited from international FDI spillovers. Interestingly, FDI in a region has a negative impact on the growth of industrial output in neighbouring regions. By Dr. Lili Wang, Dr. Huub Meijers and Prof. Adam Szirmai.
‘Catalysing innovation for social impact: The role of social enterprises in the Indian sanitation sector’ explores why many innovations do not achieve the expected social impact by considering access to sanitation as a basic need and ‘toilets’ as an innovation for those who had no prior access to one. The article shows that there is systemic uncertainty about the efforts required to catalyse demand and strategic uncertainty about social enterprises’ capabilities and intentions. Long-term impact is jointly determined by the true intention of the social enterprise, its capabilities and the nature of contextual challenges. Therefore, forecasting of social change should integrate the incentives within NSI for social entrepreneurship to make high-quality sustained social impact. This will not only depend on the willingness to adopt, but also the monitoring systems, impact analysis and sustainability audits that social entrepreneurship is subject to. By Prof. Shyama V. Ramani, PhD fellow Shuan SadreGhazi et al.
‘On incidence of diarrhoea among children in India: Can the Gordian knot of complementarities be cut?‘ uses state and household level data to examine the determinants of child diarrhoeal incidence. It introduces indicators of WASH quality and combined presence, both at the household and state levels. It combines them in a novel analysis to understand their roles. In the Indian states with the worst WASH infrastructure, these variables are strategic substitutes, but as WASH infrastructure improves, they become strategic complements. The article argues that resource allocation to lower diarrhoea incidence must take into account the complementary rather than individual presence of these focal variables. Further, the quality of WASH also matters. By Prof. Shyama V. Ramani.
‘The Impact of Food Assistance on Dietary Diversity and Food Consumption among People Living with HIV/AIDS.‘ Little is known about the outcomes of food assistance targeted to food insecure people living with HIV/AIDS. Using primary data from Zambia, the article estimated the impact of food assistance on the dietary diversity and consumption expenditures of households with HIV infected members receiving antiretroviral therapy. Estimates show that food assistance increased dietary diversity by 9.8 points (23%) mainly through the consumption of food items provided in the ration. Food assistance recipients were 20% points more likely to have acceptable food consumption and 15% points less likely to have poor food consumption than non-recipients. Food assistance also increased food consumption expenditures but had no significant impact on food purchases and total consumption expenditures. Overall, our findings demonstrate that food assistance can be an effective instrument for improving diets and enhancing the food security of people living with HIV/AIDS. By Dr. Nyasha Tirivayi et al.
‘Deconstructing the meanings of and motivations for return: an Afghan case study’ compares the autobiographical narratives of return of ‘early’ and ‘late’ (post-mid-1990s) arrivals of Afghans who met with changing reception regimes in Europe and returned to Kabul under a wide range of circumstances. The article shows that there are no clear-cut boundaries between voluntary and involuntary return decisions: almost no decision to return was entirely free, as there were legal constraints, family pressure, economic needs or socio-cultural difficulties at the basis of this decision. Almost no return decision was entirely forced, either, as most people did have the choice not to return, however harsh the alternative to returning would have been. At the same time, the analysis shows a strong empirical watershed between the post-return experiences of returnees who continue to have the capacity to be transnationally mobile and the experiences of those who do not. The findings challenge the current policy-oriented binary categories and propose to centralise the level of agency in decisions of transnational mobility as a more relevant factor in the analysis of return. By Dr. Marieke van Houte, Prof. Melissa Siegel et al.
‘Robustness of shared prosperity estimates: how different methodological choices matter’ is the first paper to systematically test the robustness of shared prosperity estimates to different methodological choices using a sample of countries from all regions in the world. The tests conducted include grouped versus microdata, nominal welfare aggregate versus adjustment for spatial price variation, and different treatment of income with negative and zero values. The empirical results reveal an only minimal impact of the proposed tests on shared prosperity estimates. Nevertheless, there are important caveats, which are also discussed in the paper. By Dr. Aziz Atamanov et al.
‘Strong ties, weak ties: Exploring the role of networks in domestic worker migration from Ethiopia to the Middle East‘ explores how migrating via a strong or weak tie results in different outcomes for Ethiopian domestic workers in their migration to the Middle East. Few studies have examined this question. Ethiopian domestic workers are a good case for this analysis as networks are critical for providing information and support for live-in domestic workers in the Middle East. Migrating via a strong tie was expected to result in better migration outcomes. The study, however, suggested that migrating via a strong tie can provide support in some cases, but is not enough to guarantee protection to Ethiopian migrant workers in the Middle East. By Dr. Katherine Kuschminder.
‘Insurance for Growth: Empirical Essays on Insurance Demand and Impacts in Africa’ uses recent advances and appropriate econometric techniques to empirically examine the level of demand and the impact of weather index insurance on farm household performance. The dissertation looks at whether the insurance solution only addresses the micro problem or whether the insurance sector largely promotes growth at an aggregate level. By Dr. Yesuf Awel.
‘Pathways to Sustainable Peacebuilding in Divided Societies: Lessons and Experiences from Mozambique’ offers several theoretical and empirical insights that advance the current state of peacebuilding literature on Mozambique and investigates what lessons countries emerging from civil wars can learn from successful cases of post-war peacebuilding. The thesis provides insights for understanding how and when the international community under the auspices of the United Nations, and in partnership with local actors, is best suited to contribute to sustainable peace in countries emerging from civil wars. By Dr. Ayokunu Adedokun.
‘Customs & Excellence: a comparative approach on administrative and regulatory compliance perspectives of the EU-Turkey customs union’ provides an in-depth analysis and comparison of administrative and regulatory compliance perspectives of the EU-Turkey customs union. The results reveal that 50 years after the EU-Turkey Association Agreement and 20 years after the EU-Turkey customs union, it is high time to re-assess, re-define and substantially adjust the customs union between the EU and Turkey. By Dr. Mahmut Kobal.
‘Getting ahead or left behind? Essays on poverty dynamics and social mobility in Africa’ provides new empirical insights on poverty dynamics and social mobility in selected Sub-Saharan African countries using a range of empirical approaches. The dissertation shows that informal safety nets in the form of support from friends/ family or being a member of a voluntary social association does not suffice to exit subjective or consumption poverty. On the other hand, education plays a vital role to reduce both. By Dr. Eleni Abraham Yitbarek.
‘Teaching to the test: a mixed methods study of instructional change from large-scale testing in Canadian schools’ sets out to quantify the type and level of effect assessments have on teaching professionals using a survey instrument that was distributed to teachers in all provinces. The subjects and grades tested vary across the provinces, as does the manner of assessment, yet this national study did identify both commonalities and contrasts in how teachers react to testing data. Two highly significant factors were: (a) the presence of high-stakes exit examinations; and (b) the amount of pressure teachers perceived from the testing process. Teaching to the test is highly evident and in some cases strongly correlated with factors controlled by provincial assessment policy. By Dr. Derek Copp.
‘Firm-Level Theory and Evidence of Corruption ‘ provides empirical and theoretical evidence of corruption which address three unresolved challenges in the literature on corruption. First, this research provides various validation exercises in order to examine the measurement validity of cross-country corruption measures including perception-based and survey-based approaches. Second, it uses the cross-country firm surveys and the instrumental variable method to identify the causal link running from firm growth to corruption burdens faced by firms. Finally, the dissertation develops a model of transnational corruption aiming to understand the multiplex interactions between multinationals’ subsidiaries and public officials under both host-country and home-country regulations. By Dr. Thuy Nguyen.
‘Grow More Food Using Fewer Resources: Agricultural Technology Adoption and Innovation Practices for Inclusive and Sustainable Development’ studies the modernisation of the agricultural sector in the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture is the main economic driver. The dissertation provides empirical evidence on how investing in agriculture is the best option against hunger and poverty, and making life better for millions of people in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. By Dr. Tigist Mekonnen Melesse.
‘Governance and Adaptation to Innovative Modes of Higher Education Provision’ examines innovative modes of higher education provision, as well as ways in which the management and governance of higher education are changing in support of innovations in higher education provision. As such, it ties in with the European Commission’s objectives to enhance the quality of higher education in an environment where globalisation and the attractiveness of the European higher education area need to be reinforced. This report also issues policy recommendations regarding the governance and management of new modes of higher education provision in order to enhance the attractiveness and relevance of European higher education and to increase the strategic capacities of HEIs to manage resources efficiently and effectively. Finally, it also promotes an awareness of the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity within Europe by bringing together a team of researchers representing varied backgrounds, organisational cultures and experiences. By PhD fellow Simone Sasso et al.
‘An econometric investigation of the productivity gender gap in Mexican research, and a simulation study of the effects on scientific performance of policy scenarios to promote gender equality.’ This paper specifies and performs a panel data econometric analysis based on a sample of Mexican researchers who were members of the National System of Researchers (SNI) of Mexico from 2002-2013. The results show no significant gender gaps for an average SNI researcher. Moreover, the authors find that the average female researcher in public universities is around 8% more productive than her male peers, with most of the observed productivity being explained by gender differentials in the propensity to have periods of no (or low) quality publication. The authors find that barriers to promotion to higher academic ranks are highest among females in public research centres. Macro scenarios on promotion practices, selectivity, collaboration and age show that eliminating gender gaps would increase aggregate productivity by an average of 7% for university females and 9% for females in research centres. By PhD fellow Lorena Rivera Leon, Prof. Jacques Mairesse and Prof. Robin Cowan.
‘Skills and entrepreneurship: Are return migrants ‘Jacks-of-all-trades’?’ examines whether and how return migrants may be more likely to be entrepreneurs. With reference to Lazear’s Jack-of-all-trades hypothesis, the paper posits that return migrants may be more likely to choose self-employment as a result of the diverse work experience they gain as migrants. Using the 2012 Egyptian Labour Market Panel Survey, seemingly unrelated regression model estimates show that return migration increases the propensity to be self-employed, controlling for the possession of savings. This is found to be due to a Jack-of-all-trades effect, whereby migration helps accumulating more occupations and jobs. Sector-specific rather than multi-sector experience may also benefit entrepreneurship, as it was found that the more industries an emigrant worked in, the less the probability of self-employment upon return. Self-employed might thus need a generalist, balanced mix of occupational skills, within a relatively narrow set of industries. These findings hold for non-agricultural activities. By PhD fellow Clotilde Mahé.
‘Offshoring medium-skill tasks, low-skill unemployment and the skill-wage structure’ studies the direct and indirect channels through which offshoring affects the domestic skillwage structure and employment opportunities. The paper contributes to the existing literature by identifying three important channels through which the domestic labour market responds to offshoring shocks. The authors show that a marginal decline in offshoring costs of domestic medium skill-intensive tasks influences the domestic labour market through: i) a productivity effect, due to cost-saving effects at extensive and intensive margins, ii) an internal skill-task reallocation of tasks between domestic skill groups, and iii) a relative specialisation of the domestic economy in low and high skill-intensive tasks. By Prof. Joan Muysken, Dr. Thomas Ziesemer et al.
‘Glass ceiling effect in urban China: Wage inequality of rural-urban migrants during 2002-2007’ studies the levels and changes in wage inequality among Chinese rural-urban migrants during 2002-2007. Using data from two waves of national household surveys, the paper finds that wage inequality among migrants decreased significantly between 2002 and 2007. The analysis on the wage distribution further shows that high-wage migrants experienced slower wage growth than middle-and low-wage migrants – a primary cause of declining inequality of migrants. Overall, the results suggest that there exists a strong “glass ceiling” for migrants in the urban labour market. By Prof. Zhong Zhao et al.
‘Capacity building using PhD education in Africa’ offers an update of the literature related to doctoral education in Africa, an overview of the needs in the field according to both African PhD fellows and their supervisors, and a discussion on the role of e-learning innovations in supporting capacity building. The paper proposes that in order to support capacity building in the institutions the biggest change should come from within the countries and the institutions themselves. Investments in higher education institutions, facilities and staff capacity (numbers and training), will benefit the quality and scale of services provided. Similarly, offering doctoral students and university staff funding will allow them to focus on their research, rather than spending time on other jobs in order to provide income for their families. Higher quality local education will not prevent the best performing students to seek education abroad, but it will allow the good students who decide to remain in their home country a better chance to build capacity locally. By Dr. Mindel van de Laar, Research assistant Shivani Achrekar et al.
‘The impact of quantitative easing in the Netherlands: A stock-flow consistent approach’ observes some interesting stylised facts for the Netherlands, which emphasise on the one hand a strong potential for interaction between the financial and the real sphere and on the other hand may help to explain why QE had hardly any impact on Dutch GDP growth. The authors show how the Netherlands has a very large financial sector in which pension funds play an important role next to the banking sector. The paper explains with a relatively simple model how the QE operation of the ECB trough the banking system had no discernible impact on GDP growth in the Netherlands. In addition it shows how using QE through government expenditures and taxes has a stimulating impact. By Dr. Huub Meijers and Prof. Joan Muysken
‘Post-Enlargement Migration and the Great Recession in the E(M)U: Lessons and policy implications’ summarises key results from research about post-enlargement mobility in the EU. The paper clarifies its scope, composition and effects; labour market situation of mobile workers; the role of labour mobility as a vehicle of economic stabilisation; as well as brain circulation and return migration. It also outlines a policy agenda for a labour mobility model for a vibrant EU, enabling Europe to cope with labour market imbalances and asymmetric economic shocks, and providing for a more prosperous, cohesive and equal EU. By Dr. Martin Kahanec and Prof. Klaus F. Zimmermann
‘Constructing robust poverty trends in the Islamic Republic of Iran: 2008-14’ constructs and tests the robustness of consistently measured poverty trends in the Islamic Republic of Iran after 2008, using international poverty lines based on U.S. dollars at 2011 purchasing power parity. The constructed estimates reveal three distinct periods of welfare in the Islamic Republic of Iran: increase in poverty and inequality between 2008 and 2009, decline in poverty and inequality between 2009 and 2012, and gradual deterioration of both indicators again after 2012. The study‘s results are robust regardless of the choice of welfare aggregate, inclusion or exclusion of different components, and spatial adjustment accounting for regional variation in food and housing prices. By Dr. Aziz Atamanov et al.