How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect vulnerable groups? A new journal article examines the before- versus the after-effects of the pandemic shock on individual job status in spatial labour markets and identifies small but distinct subgroups that may require particular policy interventions.
What are the employment effects of import penetration in Africa? asks a new working paper exploring manufacturing industry-level data across 20 African countries over the 1990-2016 period and firm-level data. The results underscore the importance of building technological capabilities and investing in skill upgrading within firms to benefit from the technologies embodied in import penetration from developed countries while overcoming the pro-competitive effects associated with import penetration from low-wage countries.
These are just two questions tackled by our researchers in February 2022 — in two journal articles, five working papers, and one news article, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘PISA, global reference societies, and policy borrowing: The promises and pitfalls of academic resilience‘ compares and contrasts countries with the relative share of disadvantaged students who can achieve higher achievement levels on PISA. This article provides associations drawn from school-level factors and resulting implications for policy reform. It offers several cautions with the growing influence of cross-national comparisons of academic resilience. The discussion underscores how the OECD’s notion of “academic resilience,” which has come to dominate transnational policy debates, is relatively narrow and limited by the measures it uses to assess student competencies. By Prof. Louis Volante et al.
‘Impacts of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Older-Age Cohorts in European Labor Markets: A Machine Learning Exploration of Vulnerable Groups‘ identifies vulnerable groups through the examination of their employment status in the face of the initial COVID-19 shock. The study examines the before- versus the after-effects of the pandemic shock on individual job status in spatial labour markets and identifies small but distinct subgroups that may require particular policy interventions. The authors find that these groups are prone to pandemic-related job loss due to different sets of individual-level factors. These factors include employment type and sector, age, education and pre-pandemic health status, and location-specific factors, such as drops in mobility and stringency policies affecting particular regions or countries. By Dr. Mehmet Guney Celbis, Dr. Pui-hang Wong et al.
‘Advanced digital technologies and industrial resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic: A firm-level perspective‘ investigates the extent to which advanced digital technologies are diffused in developing countries, the main factors supporting their adoption and the role played by these technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis presents three findings, namely: the diffusion of these technologies is still very limited to a handful of firms; large firms, firms operating within global value chains and firms with existing innovative capabilities are more likely to adopt ADP technologies; and advanced digitalisation has contributed to the robustness of firms as they address the COVID-19 crisis and supported their readiness to act and respond quickly and adapt to the new context. By PhD candidate Elisa Calza, Dr. Alejandro Lavopa et al.
‘Import penetration and manufacturing employment: Evidence from Africa‘ uses manufacturing industry-level data across 20 African countries over the 1990-2016 period and firm-level data to provide novel evidence on the employment effects of import penetration in Africa. In particular, this study examines the employment effects of import penetration based on the type of imports and the source of imports. The analysis reveals a significant positive effect of intermediate import penetration on employment. However, it finds that final good import penetration has either a negative or insignificant effect on employment at best. The positive employment effects of intermediate goods from developed countries also disproportionately benefit the skilled workforce. From a policy perspective, the results underscore the importance of building technological capabilities and investing in skill upgrading within firms to benefit from the technologies embodied in import penetration from developed countries while overcoming the pro-competitive effects associated with import penetration from low-wage countries. Dr. Solomon Owusu, Dr. Gideon Ndubuisi and Dr. Emmanuel Buadi Mensah.
‘Globalisation and financialisation in the Netherlands‘ finds that the growth of the financial sector in the Netherlands has manifested itself foremost in the spectacular rise of Special Purpose Vehicles with only foreign assets and liabilities, created for tax reasons. This paper suggests that another reason is the growth of credit provided to households and firms by banks, not based on domestic savings, but borrowed from abroad. Next to that, financial intermediation and specialisation contributed to the growth of the financial sector, enlarging the combined balance sheets without an increase in underlying real assets. Even more important is that liabilities of pension funds increased strongly due to the mandatory funded pension system, leading to a surge in assets mostly issued abroad. The authors analyse these developments using insights from stock-flow consistent models for the Dutch economy that they developed earlier. This analysis highlights the role monetary policy played in facilitating and stimulating the growth of financialisation. By Prof. Joan Muysken and Prof. Huub Meijers.
‘Globalisation increased trust in northern and western Europe between 2002 and 2018‘ shows that the substantial globalisation of the first two decades of the 21st century has contributed to institutional trust and – less significant – to interpersonal trust. This relation is non-linear. The “usual suspects” of income inequality and diversity have decreased institutional and interpersonal trust. Only specific government expenditures (education and culture) have contributed to trust, more so in combination with the high quality of institutions. High trusting countries (compared to Austria) turn out to be: France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The positive effect of globalisation on trust is “carried” by the higher educated and those with higher incomes. By Loesje Verhoeven and Prof. Jo Ritzen.
‘The old-age pension household replacement rate in Belgium‘ examines the retirement behaviour of Belgian workers in one-earner households who are automatically granted a more generous old-age pension benefits replacement rate, known as household replacement rate. Following a recommendation of the Belgian Pension Reform Committee, this policy is to be suppressed for new pensioners, except for those receiving the minimum pension. This paper provides an ex-ante impact evaluation of such reform on both pension sustainability and adequacy measures. Overall, despite the positive poverty and distributional aspects of this policy, the analysis supports the reform proposal of removing the household replacement rate. By Dr. Alessio Brown and Dr. Anne-Lore Fraikin.
‘Economic policy uncertainty and the loss of South Africa’s growth momentum: Can the decline be reversed?’ argues that some of the structural weaknesses in the South African economy today are the result of the rapid trade liberalisation policies pursued by the ANC from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. This news article published in the Daily Maverick says that the subsequent failure to adopt a labour-intensive reindustrialisation policy has saddled the economy with the highest unemployment rate in the world. The results of a study highlighted by the authors show a sharp decrease in entrepreneurial activities in a given period that directly follows a rise in economic policy uncertainty. This apparent reversal in entrepreneurial activities has important implications for countries such as South Africa that are grappling with high youth unemployment rates. By Dr. Alexis Habiyaremye et al.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
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