Have COVID-19 measures affected food prices in low to middle-income countries? A new paper finds that stricter lockdowns increased food prices among major urban markets, although impacts were also linked to mobility and previous reliance on trade. Read the full working paper here.
Is artificial intelligence starting to have an effect on the economy? A new article finds clear evidence of improved labour productivity, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises and the services industries. See the full journal article here.
These are just two questions tackled by our researchers in February 2021 — in three journal articles, five working papers and one PhD dissertation, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘The impact of artificial intelligence on labor productivity’ aims to test to what extent solutions based on AI technologies might have started to have an effect on the economy. The analysis shows that once controlling for other patenting activities, AI patent applications generate an extra-positive effect on companies’ labour productivity. The effect concentrates on SMEs and services industries, suggesting that the ability to quickly readjust and introduce AI-based applications in the production process is an important determinant of the impact of AI observed to date. By Dr. Daniel Vertesy et al.
‘Just a piece of paper? Domestic standards certification and small firm growth in Viet Nam’ explores what drives firms’ decision to have a domestic standards certificate, taking into account a rich number of factors related to the cost and expected benefits of certification as well as institutional factors. The article further explores the presence of a positive and significant effect of domestic certificates on firm growth, testing whether these serve as signalling devices for desirable attributes under information asymmetry. The authors find evidence of a signalling effect of domestic standards certification, being stronger for female-run businesses. By PhD fellow Elisa Calza and Prof. Micheline Goedhuys.
‘Co-operative learning and resilience to COVID-19 in a small-sized South African Enterprise’ examines how enhanced knowledge sharing through co-operative learning can be applied to induce higher innovation performance and more efficient resource utilisation structures during crises comparable to the current pandemic. Using the collaborative learning experiences of a small enterprise producing ecological fertilisers, this study was able to link crisis resilience enhancement to increased knowledge exchange between business entities connected through the agro-ecological value chain. It found that new insights generated through the co-learning process constitute a key input for strengthening the required capability endowments that enable the organisation and its partners to weather the COVID-19 crisis and lay the foundation for the sustainability of post-COVID-19 operations. By Dr. Alexis Habiyaremye.
‘Patent landscaping using ‘green’ technological trajectories’ identifies the main technological trends in a very large (i.e., universal) patent citation network comprising all patented technologies. The analysis draws a detailed map of green technologies (along with the particular non-green technologies that contribute thereto or benefit therefrom), in which the authors find both very broad and general areas (such as ICT or medical and health), and specific green technologies, such as batteries, wind power and electric vehicles. In the geography-based map, the study finds specific European and non-European areas. In all landscaping maps, non-green technologies play a large role, indicating that sectoral and geographical progress in GreenTech cannot be fully understood independently of developments in particular fields of non-GreenTech technologies. By Dr. Önder Nomaler and Prof. Bart Verspagen.
‘COVID-19 policy responses, mobility, and food prices: Evidence from local markets in 47 low to middle-income countries’ seeks to test if and how food prices in low to middle-income countries have been affected by the stringency of COVID-19 measures. Results show that more stringent policy responses increase food prices for integrated and less remote markets but not for segmented markets. The impact of the stringency of policy responses on food prices is mediated by reductions in mobility and moderated by markets’ pre-Corona dependency on trade. By Dr. Stephan Dietrich, Dr. Bruno Martorano et al.
‘Deepening or delinking? Innovative capacity and global value chain participation in the ICT sectors’ investigates the interdependence between the possible trajectories involved in global value chain participation and innovative capacity. The paper draws explorative insights from a cluster analysis of 45 countries on the subsectors of the information and communication technology industry: hardware and software. The analysis uncovers remarkable differences across sectors and countries. The authors identify different trajectories and discuss the sub-sectoral specificities which contribute to explaining these differences. The association between the strengthening of innovative capacity and deeper insertion in global value chains applies to only a handful of countries and only in the software subsector. By Prof. Carlo Pietrobelli et al.
‘Macroeconomic stimulus packages and income inequality in developing countries: Lessons from the 2007-9 Great Recession for the Covid-19 crisis in South Africa’ examines the links between macroeconomic rescue packages and patterns of growth, employment and inequality in nine developing counties during the recovery period following the Great Recession of 2007- 2009. The findings indicate that countries that privileged larger fiscal packages enacted through public infrastructure investments had more favourable outcomes in terms of employment recovery and preventing the worsening of poverty. Moreover, the implementation of deficit-financed stimulus packages did not lead to unsustainable debt levels or persistent inflation. As South Africa contemplates rolling out a sizable new infrastructure stimulus package to tow the economy out of the current crisis, insights from those experiences may provide useful lessons for building a more equitable and more shock-resilient post-Covid-19 economy. By Dr. Alexis Habiyaremye et al.
‘Democracy and COVID-19 outcomes’ shows that while the infection rates of the disease appear to be higher for more democratic countries so far, their observed case fatality rates are lower. The paper also finds a negative association between case fatality rates and government attempts to censor media. However, such censorship relates positively to the infection rate. By Prof. Klaus F. Zimmermann et al.
‘Social transformations and labour market entry: An investigation into university systems in emerging economies‘ shows that compared to white males, women and people of colour tend to have lower labour market outcomes and to be under-represented in top job positions. Despite the increasing participation of people of colour and females in higher education, few become faculty members in universities. This dissertation argues that the inclusion of previously excluded groups in academia is particularly important for developing countries that experienced large social transformations and have less mature knowledge systems. Even if gender and racial unbalances have been extensively investigated, many studies overlook the fundamental characteristics of the process of entry into academia. In particular, this dissertation examines how individual and systemic mechanisms relate to supervision, collaboration, and mutual evaluation when they first manifest in an academic career. By Dr. Giulia Rossello.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
Pexels / O. Tajudeen