What are the major drivers of structural change — technology, trade, policy or pressure groups? A new book published by Oxford University Press investigates the causes and consequences of structural change across the global economy, particularly in terms of inclusiveness and sustainability. This edited volume provides a comprehensive overview of the major debates surrounding structural change, from the intellectual foundations through historical trends to the latest analyses.
Why does rapid technological change result in higher global GDP, but also higher inequalities between countries? A new working paper based on computational modelling carried out at UNU-MERIT, argues that low income countries need special measures to foster innovation and emulation, with a view to increasing the set of technologies available in their economies — so they are not left behind.
These are just two questions tackled by our researchers in December 2021 — in two books, four journal articles and six reports, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Regional Development in Turkey: Findings Obtained from Machine Learning Approaches‘ analyses the factors affecting entrepreneurship activities in Turkey in terms of SD by applying machine learning, which is a relatively new method in social sciences, and using Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data. This article analyses and extends the previous results of Özdemir and Karadeniz (2011) and Karadeniz and Özçam (2018) from individual entrepreneur gains in the Turkish context for the first time through the application of machine learning algorithms. By Dr. Mehmet Guney Celbis et al.
‘Moving towards the centre or the exit? Migration in population studies and in Population Studies 1996–2021‘ examines the position of migration in population studies, focusing on the period 1996–2021. This article considers the reasons why migration remains problematic for demographers, but also how approaches to migration have changed over the last 25 years. While it has arguably become more important to both demography and population studies because of the transition to low fertility and mortality, migration has metamorphosed into a complex field in its own right, almost independently from changes in demography. Both internal and international migration form the subject of this examination and four main themes are pursued: data and measurement; theories and approaches; migration and development; and migration and political demography. The papers published in the journal Population Studies are used to provide a mirror through which to view these changes over the last 25 years. This paper concludes by looking at likely future directions in migration studies, demography, and population studies. By Prof. Ronald Skeldon.
‘Acceptance of COVID-19 Vaccines in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Six National Phone Surveys‘ studies six national surveys from countries representing 38% of the sub-Saharan African population (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda) to measure people’s willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if an approved vaccine is provided now and for free. The findings suggest that inadequate demand is unlikely to represent the key bottleneck to reaching high COVID-19 vaccine coverage in sub-Saharan Africa. To turn intent into effective demand, targeted information, sensitisation and engagement campaigns bolstering confidence in the safety of approved vaccines and reducing concerns about side effects will be crucial to safeguard the swift progression of vaccine rollout in one of the world’s poorest regions. By PhD candidate Yannick Valentin Markhof et al.
‘Innovativeness, Work Flexibility, and Place Characteristics: A Spatial Econometric and Machine Learning Approach‘ seeks to study work-related and geographical conditions under which innovativeness is stimulated through the analysis of individual and regional data dating from just prior to the smartphone age. As a result, by using the ISSP 2005 Work Orientations Survey, we are able to examine the role of work flexibility, among other work-related conditions, in a relatively more traditional context that mostly excludes modern, smartphone-driven, remote-working practices. Our study confirms that individual freedom in the work place, flexible work hours, job security, living in suburban areas, low stress, private business activity, and the ability to take free time off work are important drivers of innovation. In particular, through a spatial econometric model, we identified an optimum level for weekly work time of about 36 h, which is supported by our findings from tree-based ensemble models. The originality of the present study is particularly due to its examination of innovative output rather than general productivity through the integration of person-level data on individual work conditions, in addition to its novel methodological approach which combines machine learning and spatial econometric findings. By Dr. Mehmet Guney Celbis, Dr. Pui-hang Wong et al.
‘Iran Science, Technology & Innovation 2015-2020‘ presents an overview of the science, technology and innovation landscape in Iran from 2015-2020. Combined with heightened domestic demand, the multiplication of technology incubators and accelerators since 2015 has led to exponential growth in knowledge-based firms and start-ups. Between 2014 and 2017, exports of knowledge-based goods grew by a factor of five, before slumping in 2018 following the restoration of US sanctions. A series of laws and policies adopted since 2015 have removed barriers to competition and enhanced the financial support system for innovation. Market incentives have not managed to boost overall commercial investment in research and development (R&D), however, which dipped from 35% to 28% of domestic expenditure on R&D between 2014 and 2016. The 39% unemployment rate among university graduates suggests a pressing need to adapt academic programmes to the needs of the job market. Despite attempts to boost domestic manufacturing and employment, the renewable energy sector still contributes less than 1% of the energy mix. By Shuan SadreGhazi.
‘Social assistance programmes in South Asia: an analysis of socio-economic impacts‘ provides a critical review of various literature. Following the introduction of new social assistance initiatives and the greater availability of quality individual and household survey data, social scientists have in the past decade increasingly focused on empirical analysis of programme impacts, using experimental or quasi-experimental techniques to estimate the true impact of public interventions. However, despite this growing empirical literature on social assistance now available across the region, there are very few meta-studies that analyse and summarise these findings beyond specific programmes or types of intervention. To fill this knowledge gap, this report provides a critical review of the literature to summarise the impacts of different types of social assistance on socio-economic outcomes across South Asian countries. By PhD candidate Yannick Valentin Markhof et al.
‘Harnessing blockchain for sustainable development: prospects and challenges’ argues that blockchain technology can be used in many applications that could contribute to sustainable development. However, at this moment, blockchain innovation has focused on financial applications dissociated from the real economy. For most of the innovations in this field, the goal is to profit by extracting rents through financial intermediation and speculative gains in crypto-financial assets instead of creating real value through new products and services. Such behaviour, combined with the lack of regulation and the swift pace of innovation, is a receipt for financial bubbles and bursts. At the same time, blockchain is potentially a key technology in a new technological paradigm of increasing automation and integrating physical and virtual worlds, together with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robots, and gene editing. In such a scenario of the very early stages of this new paradigm’s installation period, it is still not clear the real long-impact of these technologies on the economy, societies and environment. Similar moments in the past technological revolutions offered windows of opportunity for some developing countries to catch up and others to forge ahead. Therefore, governments of developing countries should seek to strengthen their innovation systems to strategically position themselves to benefit from this new wave of technological change. By Dr. Clovis Freire Junior.
‘Harnessing rapid technological change for inclusive and sustainable development’ examines how to make frontier technologies work for all. It highlights some of the concerns regarding inequalities that technological change might exacerbate, which science, technology and innovation (STI) policies need to address in the future. The analysis focuses on ways to assist the development of appropriate business models that allow inclusive innovation using frontier technologies to be scaled up for inclusive and sustainable development. By Dr. Clovis Freire Junior.
‘Commodities and Development Report 2021: Escaping from the Commodity Dependence Trap through Technology and Innovation’ explores the extent to which commodity-dependent developing countries are trapped into commodity dependence and, as a result, how their economic structures are weakened by this situation. What the role of technology could be in helping commodity-dependent developing countries to diversify their economies and escape from the commodity dependence trap is then analysed. Policies are proposed to show how countries could diversify their economies, and some opportunities are highlighted to illustrate some benefits that commodity-dependent developing countries could derive from digitalization and embracing the current technological revolution. The report concludes with suggestions of key measures at the national, regional and international levels that could help make this transformation possible. By Dr. Clovis Freire Junior.
‘Technology and Innovation Report 2021: Catching technological waves: Innovation with equity’ examines the likelihood of frontier technologies widening existing inequalities and creating new ones. It also addresses the national and international policies, instruments and institutional reforms that are needed to create a more equal world of opportunity for all, leaving no one behind. The report urges all developing nations to prepare for a period of deep and rapid technological change that will profoundly affect markets and societies. This requires strengthening and aligning Science, Technology and Innovation systems and industrial policies, building digital skills among students and the workforce, and closing digital divides. Governments should also enhance social protection and ease workforce transitions to deal with the potential negative consequences of frontier technologies on the job market. The report also calls for strengthened international cooperation to build innovation capacities in developing countries, facilitate technology transfer, increase women’s participation in digital sectors, conduct technological assessments and promote an inclusive debate on the impact of frontier technologies on sustainable development. By Dr. Clovis Freire Junior.
‘New Perspectives on Structural Change: Causes and Consequences of Structural Change in the Global Economy’ provides a comprehensive overview of the major debates on the role of structural change in economic development. The book begins by recounting the intellectual history of the notion of structural change, providing a critical overview of the arguments that link structural change to growth and development, before outlining the main historical trends in structural change and structural transformation to build an empirical base for the assessment and analysis of structural change. This analysis lays the foundation for an analysis of the drivers and determinants of structural change, with factors including technological change, changes in demand, trade, policy, class interests, and pressure groups being considered. The final part of the book contributes to recent debates on inclusive growth, poverty reduction, income distribution, and the environment. Whether development benefits all members of society in a fair way is one of the most important issues in the development debate, with this volume contributing to the analysis of how structural change affects the inclusiveness and sustainability of socio-economic development. By Profs. Ludovico Alcorta, Neil Foster-McGregor, Bart Verspagen, and Adam Szirmai.
‘Advanced Introduction to Migration Studies‘ examines the principal methods of migration and offers in-depth guidance on trends and types of population movements in today’s world. Key areas such as forced movements and refugees are considered, alongside voluntary migration, migration policy and the relationship between migration and development. By Prof. Ronald Skeldon.
‘Sustainable development as redirected evolution‘ discusses similarities and differences between human evolutions with natural evolution. This book chapter argues that sustainable development should be understood as redirected evolution: getting closer to sustainable development requires a multitude of changes, each of which is subject to quasi-evolutionary processes of variation, selection and retention. By Prof. René Kemp and Dr. Serdar Turkeli.
‘Migration in political demography: a review of evidence‘ provides a broad review of the literature on migration in political demography to examine both the role of migration in political change and the impact of political systems on migration. The chapter considers migration not only as a critical part of state creation but also as a challenge to states through its transformation of both destinations and origins of population movement. Particular attention is given to urban areas of destination through the political impact of immigration and it goes on to examine the role of diasporas in the spread of political ideas to origins. The importance of macro-level institutional change brought about through flows of migration is examined relative to the impacts that individual migrants can have on both origins and destinations. The chapter concludes by arguing that adopting a more systematic approach to linking political systems with changing patterns of human movement can provide a broader perspective to the migration and development debate. By Prof. Ronald Skeldon.
‘The importance of global value chains and regional capabilities for the economic complexity of EU-regions‘ combines various literatures on Global Value Chains (GVC), Economic Complexity and Evolutionary Economic Geography. The objective is to assess the role of regional capabilities and GVC participation in fostering economic complexity in 236 NUTS2-regions in Europe. The study suggest there is no such thing as a common path of economic upgrading across EU regions. Regions with high economic complexity tend to keep their advantageous positions, as they are capable of benefitting from both regional capabilities (as proxied by a high relatedness between local activities) and external linkages in terms of GVC participation. Conversely, low-complex regions do not benefit from GVC participation, unless their regional capabilities (in terms of relatedness density) are also stronger. By Prof. Carlo Pietrobelli et al.
‘How Enriching Sensory Awareness Develops and Affects Well-being throughout Childhood‘ focuses on the enrichment of sensory processing as a core capacity. ‘Sensory awareness’ relates to the way humans perceive, distinguish and focus on the world through the senses. Enrichment is understood both as the child’s ability to broaden their own sensory capabilities and as the societal mechanisms to support and nurture sensory development during childhood and adolescence by various means and in various contexts, such as school and family environments. This literature review maps empirical and evidence-based theoretical knowledge of the enrichment of children’s sensory awareness and how it interacts with overall child well-being throughout childhood.By Dr. Victor Cebotari et al.
‘Giving up your body to enter fortress Europe: Understanding the gendered experiences of sextortion of Nigerians migrating to the Netherlands‘ shows that Nigerian migrants are most vulnerable to encounter sextortion in Nigeria, Libya, Niger, and Italy. The extortion of sexual favours often occurs in addition to financial bribes, making it not the primary purpose of the exchange, but not underplaying its importance. While women are most often seen as the survivors of sextortion, also men and non‐binary individuals are at risk to encounter sextortion. Besides gender, the study indicates that age, economic situation, and the availability of a social network influence a migrant’s vulnerability. Furthermore, Nigerian migrants often experience different sources of pressure to succeed their journeys which take away the element of choice when encountering sextortion.By Loes van Heugten, Ashleigh Bicker Caarten and Dr. Ortrun Merkle.
‘International student mobility and academic performance: Does timing matter?‘ examines the impact of exchange programmes’ timing on students’ academic performance, focusing on the moment in which students travel and the length of the period spent abroad. The study finds that international mobility impacts groups of students differently. Students who travel closer to the end of their undergraduate courses benefit the most from the mobility experience (an increase of 0.06 points on final standardized grades), while negative effects (-0.05 points) are found for those who travel at the beginning of their university program. The results also show that, while student mobility impacts positively and significantly students who participate in programmes lasting from one semester to one year (0.08 points), negative effects are associated with shorter periods abroad (-0.1 points). By PhD candidate Cintia Denise Granja and Dr. Fabiana Visentin.
‘Identifying technological trajectories in the mining sector using patent citation networks‘ finds that innovation patterns in the mining sector are “technology bounded”, i.e. largely shaped by patenting activities carried out in a very limited range of mining technological fields, even though the study detects a shift from exploration to environmental mining technologies (emergence of a new technological paradigm). In addition, the study examines two aspects of technical change that have been largely disregarded in extant research: the geographical patterns of inventive activities and the role of key applicants in such patterns. It shows that core mining patents and leading inventors involved originate almost exclusively from the US, so that trajectories appear to be heavily “geographically bounded”, revealing that developing resource-abundant countries lag behind the technological frontier in mining. Moreover, only a few applicant firms are responsible for most inventive activities reflecting a highly concentrated oligopolistic structure, hence characterising trajectories as “applicant bounded”. Similar results are observed at the level of sub-trajectories, although with some relevant exceptions, hence suggesting that a substantial heterogeneity exists within the industry and across mining-related technologies. By Enrico Alessandri.
‘Global dynamics of Gini coefficients of education for 146 countries updated to 1950-2015‘ updates the Gini coefficients of education to include the year 2015, added to the Barro‐Lee data set recently. A panel analysis shows that every five years education inequality falls by 2.8 percentage points. A stable average value is predicted to be 0.22. Kernel densities loose their twin peaks when going from 1955 to later years. By Dr. Thomas Ziesemer.
‘Draft list of indicators and guidance notes’ develops an alternative system of indicators of good migration governance: a comprehensive set of synthetic measures that evaluate systems of migration governance vis-à-vis the principles of protection and sustainable development set by the 2016 New York Declaration and the Agenda 2030. By Dr. Elaine Lebon-McGregor et al.
‘Parental migration and psychological well-being of children. Longitudinal evidence from Ghana‘ is the first study to employ panel data to examine the time-varying effects of migration on the psychological well-being of children who stay behind in African contexts. Results indicate that girls and boys with the mother away internally or internationally are equally or more likely to have higher levels of psychological well-being when compared to boys and girls of nonmigrants. A higher level of well-being is observed amongst girls when parents migrate and divorce. However, parental migration and divorce are more likely to increase the psychological vulnerability of boys. In Ghana, the psychological well-being of children is nuanced by which parent has migrated, marital status of migrant parent, and the gender of the child. By Radhika Raturi and Dr. Victor Cebotari.
‘Modelling the effects of rapid technological change and international protection of intellectual property in the inequalities between countries‘ examines the effects of rapid technological change and the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime on income inequality across countries. The analysis is carried out through computer simulations of a multi-country multi-sector evolutionary economic model with endogenous technological change, change in consumption patterns and diversification. It considers multiple countries engaging simultaneously in innovation and emulation. The results show that rapid technological change results in higher global GDP but also higher inequalities between countries. In this context, the relaxation of international protection of intellectual property rights could further increase global GDP and serve as an equalizing force, reducing the inequalities between countries. However, low-income countries do not benefit much from mechanisms that facilitate emulation in all countries equally. They require special interventions that foster their innovation and emulation capacities and increase the set of technologies available in their economies, so they are not left behind. These results are highly significant and relevant in the current context of rapid technological change with digital transformation and Industry 4.0. By Dr. Clovis Freire Junior.
‘Gender and Corruption: What do we know?‘ provides an overview of the current state of the art in research on corruption and gender. The paper addresses the important question of how men and women are impacted differently by corruption, focusing on areas that are relevant to the OSCE mandate. The discussion also highlights the issue of “sextortion”, a form of corruption that disproportionately affects women. The paper concludes by highlighting selected promising practices and proposes several approaches to mainstreaming gender into the anti-corruption work of the OSCE. By Dr. Ortrun Merkle.
‘Importance of, and how to increase, the relevancy and impact of a terminology standard: Case of ISO 56000 innovation Management -Fundamentals and Vocabulary:2020‘ seeks to highlight the standardisation strategy to increase the relevance of terminology standard by integrating the different stakeholders at an early stage, how to disseminate the document and prepare its revision, once it is published. By Prof. Fred Gault et al.
‘Effects of HIV on Children and Youth’s Educational Attainment‘ seeks to examine the effects of HIV on inter-and intragender gaps in educational attainment in SSA using mixed-method studies in Zimbabwe. This dissertation relies on four studies that use data from the existing literature, quantitative data from the Demographic Health Surveys (DHS), qualitative data collected at Mashambanzou Care Trust in Zimbabwe, and a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. The findings mainly show that while there is gender parity in primary and secondary education in Zimbabwe, HIV-positive girls still lag in educational attainment. The dissertation also highlights that there is both a level-of-education effect and a cohort effect in how HIV affects educational attainment among males in Zimbabwe. That is, HIV mainly has an effect at the tertiary level among males and affects older individuals who were born before major interventions related to curbing the spread of the disease were implemented. The findings also show that some children of HIV-positive mothers do not have birth certificates. This issue presents barriers related to public school enrollment and access to public funds. Finally, in the same way that we have observed some positive results from previously implemented policies, there is hope that with effective policy interventions, barriers that inhibit HIV-positive children and youth’s education can be eradicated. By Dr. Tatenda Zinyemba.
‘Immigrant Welfare Dynamics in the Netherlands‘ seeks to complement the missing link between the rhetoric and complex immigrant welfare realities. This dissertation explores various stages and facets of the welfare cycle by examining the immigrant-native difference in welfare utilization and assimilation patterns, trajectories and determinants across generations in the case of the Netherlands. Results suggest the presence of segmentation in the welfare assimilation process among first-generation and second-generation immigrants, in spite of remarkable progress in intragenerational and intergenerational mobilities. The findings also draw attention to the effectiveness of activation-focused welfare reforms, as welfare dependence shows to be closely linked to structural barriers in the labour market. By bridging the economics and sociology literatures on immigrant integration, this thesis brings insights into the heterogeneity in welfare dynamics among the migrant and native populations over the life course and demonstrates the relevance of such evidence base for academic and policy debates on immigrant welfare participation. By Dr. Yip Ching Yu.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
J. Ernst / World Bank