A thread runs through education, innovation, and productivity. But how do these links play out in the Gulf States of Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates? Meanwhile, many top African researchers are completing their PhDs at British or American universities. Should African policymakers therefore change their assessment systems and give more incentives to homegrown talent? Finally, in order to grow, firms have to nurture their reputations. But what are the pros and cons of domestic certification for company growth in Southeast Asian countries, like Vietnam? These are just a few of the questions tackled by our researchers in June 2018 — in one policy brief, four journal articles, six working papers, and six PhD dissertations, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Social transfers and child poverty in European countries: Pro-poor targeting or pro-child targeting?‘ studies to what extent cross-country variations in child poverty risk are associated with different ways of social transfer targeting: pro-poor versus pro-child targeting. In particular, the paper addresses the potential impact on child poverty of countries’ intent to target transfers at lower incomes and children across 30 European countries. It finds that not only the size of the transfer system, but also the form of targeting matters in reducing child poverty. Specifically, the countries’ intent to target children matters even more than their intent to target lower incomes, in terms of reducing child poverty. Moreover, the prevalence of multi-generational households in a country seems to be associated with an attempt to protect against child poverty in countries with lower levels of pro-child targeting. By Prof. Salvador Pérez-Moreno et al.
‘Differences in institutional quality across Euro area countries: Which factors contribute most to inequality?’ analyses the inequality in institutional quality across Euro area countries and estimates which factors of public and private institutions contribute most to overall inequality in institutional quality. To this end, the article considers the institutional indicators of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) from the World Economic Forum (WEF) during the period 2007-2017, with the most disaggregated data possible. The findings support the call for structural reforms, particularly in the areas of ethics and corruption (in the public sphere but also in the business environment), undue influence on the judiciary and government decisions, and protection of property rights, as the major sources of inequality in institutional quality. By Prof. Salvador Pérez-Moreno et al.
‘The characteristics of highly cited researchers in Africa’ uses econometric analysis to understand which characteristics are associated with the likelihood of being highly cited. Results suggest that, on average, researchers who produce more scientific publications in a year, collaborate more often with non-African partners, and do their highest qualification in an Anglo-Saxon university (USA, UK, Canada, or Australia), have a higher probability of producing highly cited research. The authors highlight the duality of the results. On the one hand, collaborating with frontier universities seems to be a crucial mechanism that allows researchers to develop scientific capabilities. On the other hand, policymakers should be aware that research assessment in African countries should go beyond measuring scientific impact in the academic community. Otherwise, incentives will be in place to stimulate winners that are already well connected with the global scientific elite. By PhD fellow Hugo Confraria et al.
‘Circular economy scientific knowledge in the European Union and China: A bibliometric, network and survey analysis (2006–2016)’ looks at the evolution of circular economy (CE) scientific knowledge in the most productive political geographies in the field, namely the European Union (EU) 28 and China, by using bibliometric, network and survey analysis. The paper finds that that China and the EU have the highest amount of CE literature published and are each other’s primary source of co-authorship. By Dr. Serdar Turkeli, Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘The importance of social protection for children in the Balkans’ investigates the costs of child poverty in the Balkans, including deprivation in terms of education, health, and social mobility. This policy brief then lays out the potential of social protection, most notably in terms of building resilience and fostering development. Set against recent case studies from around the world, including Cambodia and Uganda, the brief gives policy recommendations on various critical issues including transfer schemes, transformative measures, and (alternative) care for children with disabilities. By Prof. Franziska Gassmann et al.
‘Structural change, productivity growth and labour market turbulence in Africa’ studies the role of structural change and job reallocation in the economic growth performance of African countries over the past 50 years using an updated and expanded version 5 of the Africa Sector Database (ASD) developed by the Groningen Growth and Development Centre (GGDC). The results show that productivity growth has been generally low since the 1960s with moderate contributions from structural change across the entire period. The paper further makes the first attempt to estimate the effect of labour market flexibility on job reallocation in Africa. The results show that more rigid labour markets reduce job reallocation across sectors impeding structural change and productivity growth in Africa. By PhD fellows Emmanuel Buadi Mensah and Solomon Owusu, Dr. Neil Foster-McGregor and Prof. Adam Szirmai.
‘Policies, innovation and transition in the Arab countries of the Gulf’ examines the changes in innovation and sectoral labour productivity that materialise through the influence of intermediate outputs of active policy measures. The study uses an eclectic qualitative approach incorporating descriptive statistics from Oman, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the period 1990 to 2016. The analysis is guided by the Innovation Policy Conditions Framework. Overall, the state of the ultimate outputs of innovation activity and diversification for the three countries are far from their full potential owing to the moderate performance of the enablers and relevant policy areas. The ultimate outputs appear to be constrained by the lowest performing policy area that may be termed as the limiting enabler. By PhD fellow Mueid Al Raee, Prof. Jo Ritzen et al.
‘Modern industrial policy and public-private councils at the subnational level: Mexico’s experience in an international perspective’ addresses the institutional foundations of industrial policy at the subnational level, with new empirical evidence from a large federal state, Mexico. The paper presents a detailed analysis of the governance of 32 newly created public–private State Productivity Commissions. All evidence analysed points to the fact that most of these commissions were in a rudimentary state of development after more than three years since the federal law promulgated them. Central government entities have a major challenge to provide and mobilise technical, administrative, and possibly financial support for the sub‐ national commissions. By Prof. Carlo Pietrobelli et al.
‘Knowledge convergence in European regions: Towards a cohesion?’ uses the European Union Framework Programme data from 1984 to 2016 to show that there are signs of knowledge convergence within the NUTS2 regions of Europe. Despite the fact that the top performers persist over the years, the paper shows that convergence is much stronger among the less developed regions. By Dr. Semih Akçomak et al.
‘Domestic quality certification and growth of Vietnamese MSMEs’ explores what drives firms’ decision to have a domestically recognised certificate, taking into account a number of factors related to the cost and expected benefits of certification as well as institutional factors. The paper further explores the presence of a positive and significant effect of domestic certificates on firm growth, these serving as signaling devices for desirable attributes under information asymmetry and thus leading to an increase in legitimacy and reputation. It finds a signaling effect of certification, this being stronger for more recently adopted certificates, for advertising firms and for women entrepreneurs. By PhD fellow Elisa Calza and Prof. Micheline Goedhuys.
‘R&D, embodied technological change and employment: Evidence from Spain’ tests the employment impact of distinct types of innovative investments using a representative sample of Spanish manufacturing firms over the period 2002-2013. The paper‘s GMM-SYS estimates generate various results, which are partially in contrast with the extant literature. Indeed, estimations carried out on the entire sample do not provide statistically significant evidence of the expected labour-friendly nature of innovation. More in detail, neither R&D nor investment in innovative machineries and equipment (the so-called embodied technological change, ETC) turn out to have any significant employment effect. However, the job-creation impact of R&D expenditures becomes highly significant when the focus is limited to the high-tech firms. On the other hand – and interestingly – ETC exhibits its labour-saving nature when SMEs are singled out. By Prof. Marco Vivarelli et al.
‘Food security policy impact analysis: The econometrics of cash and food assistance cost effectiveness’ explores the relative merits of cash and food transfers in the context of national safety nets as well as international humanitarian and international aid by addressing questions such as the problem of valuing food transfers and subsidies, understanding the implications of different consumption responses due to alternative transfer modalities and estimating food demand parameters in the presence of subsidies and rationing. The dissertation provides evidence on the food security and welfare costs and benefits of replacing food consumption subsidies in Iraq with cash or food voucher transfers and finds that food vouchers are more cost effective than cash transfers in ensuring food consumption. The dissertation also finds that the cost of replacing universal food consumption subsidies with a targeted cash or food voucher transfer that fully mitigates the effects of reform is higher than the cost of the original subsidy. By Dr. Tareq Abu-El-Haj.
‘A tall order: Improving child linear growth diets, transitions and maternal education’ studies local diets and the causal effects of maternal education on child linear growth. The analysis further looks into determinants of growth transitioning probabilities for stunted vs non-stunted state. The study focuses on stunting and linear growth outcomes for children 6-59 months old in Malawi. The dissertation suggests that the importance of milk and eggs in the diet, participating in nutrition programmes and increased maternal education are cornerstone for improving child linear growth. Findings and recommendations of this dissertation provide evidence on what is contextually relevant, potential entry points, in education, health and agriculture and need for a comprehensive approach to address the persisting levels of stunting in Malawi. By Dr. Mutinta Hambayi Nseluke.
‘Strategic planning under fragility: The role of leadership in the strategic planning of municipalities in Palestine’ aims to better understand the interaction between strategic planning and local government quality and performance. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies (i.e. empirical analyses, and comparative cases studies) this dissertation explores how strategic planning is affecting the performance and the quality of local governments in fragile state conditions as well as the complicated interaction that influences the development and implementation of effective local strategic planning. By Dr. Khaled Walid Rajab.
‘Assessing the role of the export sector in Mexican economic development, 1965-2014.’ This dissertation argues that despite becoming a top exporter, Mexico has failed to capture the benefits of innovation in manufacturing, which (in highly a globalised world) are monopolised by other developed and more competitive emerging economies. By Dr. Juan Carlos Castillo.
‘The role of community mobilization in the promotion of maternal health in women living with HIV in Zambia’ investigates the role of community mobilisation in promoting maternal health in women living with HIV in Zambia. The dissertation provides insights on the role of community mobilisation on maternal health care of women living with HIV in resource poor settings and suggests that through its three components (peer support, TBAs and community involvement), community mobilisation provides opportunities for survival in various and context-specific ways. By Dr. Choolwe Muzyamba.
‘Essays on migration and occupational choice‘ explores the relationship between migration and occupational choice. The dissertation finds that, while migration might develop entrepreneurial abilities, self-employment tends to be more of a temporary choice when market-supporting institutions are lacking. For those who stay behind, the return of migrant household members appears to alter the time allocation of non-migrating members, spouses, even once migration is complete. Last, publicly provided healthcare is shown to condition migration, directly or indirectly, through effects on the labour force. By Dr. Clotilde Mahé.
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
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