Across Europe, there has been clear progress in environmental policy over the last 40 years. But will EU nations really achieve their vision of ‘living well, within the limits of our planet’ by 2050? Throughout West Africa, innovation has long been a reliable driver of development. But what specific policy challenges remain for the region and how much can partnerships address these concerns? Globally, mass redundancies may follow the rise of machine learning, robotisation, and artificial intelligence. What policies can redress the balance, beyond a universal basic income and shared ownership of ‘robots’? These are just a few of the questions tackled by our researchers in May 2018 — in 11 journal articles, one report, one policy brief, four working papers, and three PhD dissertations, among many others. Click here for the full list of our most recent publications.
‘Experiences of migration, child-parent interaction, and the life satisfaction of children in Ghana and China’ examines how the life satisfaction of children is influenced by their experiences of migration and by their interactions with parents in two geographical contexts: Ghana and China. The article provides evidence of how these relationships differ across gender groups in the two countries. The findings add nuance to a field of research that has yet to conceptualise the complexity of children’s experiences with migration and the way this complexity associates with child well‐being. By Victor Cebotari et al.
‘When access to drugs meets catch-up: Insights from the use of CL threats to improve access to ARV drugs in Brazil’ explores whether the need to improve access to an essential commodity – such as antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV infection – impacts the sectoral catch-up trajectory of the corresponding industry – in this case the health sector. The study shows that price negotiations may or may not impact both catch-up and access positively. Catch-up can provide bargaining strength in price negotiations and have a positive inter-temporal impact on both future catch-up and access. However, results suggest that only successful catch-up can lead to long term access, as the capabilities accumulated in aborted catch-up are not sufficient for large scale production of low cost essential medicines. Thus, industrial policy and health policy can impact one another and twining between catch-up and access can be helpful. By Prof. Shyama V. Ramani and Dr. Eduardo Urias.
‘Attitudes towards personal genomics and sharing of genetic data among older Swiss adults: A qualitative study’ aims to assess the willingness of older Swiss adults to share genetic data for research purposes and to investigate factors that might impact their willingness to share data. Overall, this study suggests older citizens are willing to share their data for research purposes. However, most of them will only contribute if their data is appropriately protected and if they trust the research institution to use the shared data responsibly. More transparency and detailed information regarding the data usage are urgently needed. There is a great need to increase the engagement of older adults in research since they present a large segment of our society – one which is often underexamined in research. By Prof. Angela Brand et al.
‘Migration and multidimensional well-being in Ethiopia: investigating the role of migrants destinations’ aims to better understand the relationship between migration and multi-dimensional well-being in the context of Ethiopia. The article finds that migrant and return migrant households are better off in terms of well-being than non-migrant households. Furthermore, the findings underline the importance of taking migrants destinations into account in determining the wellbeing of the households left behind. While households with a migrant in the North are significantly more likely to report higher well-being outcomes than non-migrant households, this is not true for households with migrants in other destination regions. By Dr. Katherine Kuschminder, Prof. Melissa Siegel et al.
‘Measuring innovation in the informal economy – formulating an agenda for Africa’ reviews options for measuring innovation in the informal sector and proposes an agenda for future work. The article recommends the development of policy relevant indicators of innovation in the informal economy. Two viable scenarios emerge: first, adding innovation questions to existing large-scale surveys of the informal economy; and/or second, conducting ad hoc questionnaire- and interview-based sectoral studies in selected countries. The contribution of the paper lies in the novel combination of tested approaches in informal sector surveys, on the one hand, and innovation surveys in the formal sector, on the other hand. The approaches provide ways forward to gain better understanding of the innovation in the informal economy, and to support innovation policy in African countries and beyond. By Prof. Fred Gault et al.
‘Migration and its influence on the knowledge and usage of birth control methods among Afghan women who stay behind’ investigates the link between migration and knowledge and use of birth control methods among female household members (of migrants) who stay behind in Afghanistan. The article‘s findings suggest that migrants in different destination countries transfer different information (or fail to successfully transfer information) about birth control methods to members of their transnational networks, compounding disparities in knowledge and use of birth control methods among women staying in the origin country. Migrants have the potential to be health-related development agents, but the health information migrants receive while abroad and remit back to their home countries varies by destination country context. By PhD fellow Inez Roosen and Prof. Melissa Siegel.
‘The impact of refugee experiences on education: evidence from Burundi’ uses data from Burundi, a country which experienced large-scale conflict-led emigration and substantial post-war refugee return, to explore differences in schooling outcomes between returnees, defined as individuals who were displaced to a neighbouring country and later returned home, and stayees, defined as individuals who never left the country during the conflict. Results suggest that returning refugees are more likely to have finished primary school than their contemporaries who never left the country. The article also finds that an additional year spent as a refugee while of schooling age is associated with a four to six percentage point increase in the likelihood of finishing primary school. By Dr. Sonja Fransen, Prof. Melissa Siegel et al.
‘EU mediation practices in Ukraine during revolutions: What authority as a peacemaker?’ compares two different experiences of EU engagement in mediation in Ukraine: the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Euromaidan crisis in 2013–2014. This comparison reflects two different outcomes of EU mediation practices under similar circumstances of political conflict between domestic political actors. The changing degree of collective EU authority recognised by other actors is the main driver behind varying EU mediation practices and outcomes. The article finds that differing degrees of authority explain shifts in the effectiveness of EU mediation. By Dr. Michal Natorski.
‘Drivers of urban and rural residential energy consumption in China from the perspectives of climate and economic effects‘ investigates the driving forces behind the changes in residential energy consumption (REC) in China’s urban and rural areas over the 2001–2012 period. According to the results, expenditure share and population effects play opposite roles in urban and rural areas, and the reasons and implications are analysed in depth. By Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘The idea(l) of a ‘sustainable sharing economy’: four social science perspectives on transformative change’ studies the new social relations which underpin the novel connections of supply and demand or forms of (collective) ownership that have been conceptualised as ‘social innovations’, without losing sight of the often central and crucial role that technology may play as an enabler or facilitator. By Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘Exploring the spatial dimensions of nanotechnology development in China: the effects of funding and spillovers’ investigates the factors driving nanotechnology development in Chinese regions. Advanced regions of China have spearheaded the country’s rapid growth in nanotechnology, aided by substantial support from the government. While this head start could potentially perpetuate regional inequalities through agglomeration economies, the results suggest that knowledge spillovers exert a substantially greater impact in peripheral regions compared with the advanced ones, and may thus be compensating for the limited institutional support they receive and their weak technological capabilities. This research contributes to the regional innovation literature by highlighting that a formal scientific network can counteract the forces of agglomeration economies and spur innovation in peripheral regions. By Dr. Lili Wang, Dr. Jojo Jacob et al.
‘Socio-economic transformations: Insights for sustainability’ aims to provide an initial analytical overview of framings, conceptualisations and selected analytical tools relating to sustainability transitions and transformations, bringing together insights from multiple academic communities. The report aims to illustrate how these different perspectives relate to each other and to begin to explore what potential guidance they offer for policymaking and governance more broadly. By Prof. René Kemp et al.
‘Innovation for development in West Africa: Challenges for promoting ST&I policy’ presents the results of the second in a series of workshops on the ‘Design and Evaluation of Innovation Policies for Africa’ (DEIP-Africa), reflecting the great interest of African regions in Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) policies and their social and economic impacts. Representatives of 12 countries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Côte d’Ivoire from 25-29 September 2017 to discuss existing policies and their development, in light of the African Union Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024), and the broader African Union Agenda 2063. By Prof. Fred Gault, Dr. Michiko Iizuka, PhD fellow Elisa Calza, Prof. Philippe Mawoko et al.
‘Perpetual growth, distribution, and robots’ provides a new perspective on the literature on the economic effects of machine learning, robotisation and artificial intelligence that suggests that there may be an upcoming wave of substitution of human labour by machines (including software). Rethinking the traditional ways in which technological change has been represented in economic models, the authors develop a simple Solow‐like growth model that predicts a rising wage rate but declining share of wage income in the steady state growth path. This paper presents simulation experiments on several policy options to combat the inequality that results from this, including a universal basic income as well as an option in which workers become owners of “robots”. By Prof. Bart Verspagen et al.
‘The gender-based effects of displacement: The case of Congolese refugees in Rwanda’ studies the effects of displacement in the case of Congolese refugees in Rwanda, with an explicit focus on gender. The study contributes to the existing literature by not only detailing differences in well-being between refugees and the local population along gender lines, but also by exploring variation in experiences among refugees themselves. It also pays particular attention to female-headed households, which are commonly recognised as having a high risk of vulnerability. By Dr. Özge Bilgili, Dr. Craig Loschmann and Prof. Melissa Siegel.
‘What more can we learn from R&D alliances? A review and research agenda’ examines how globalisation has increased the imperative for organisations to organise cross-border, inter-firm agreements efficiently, and how this has led to a cross-fertilisation of ideas from a variety of fields, including international business, management, geography and, more recently, psychology. The aim of this paper is to review and synthesise this literature to identify new directions for research. It argues that the growing complexity and international nature of these alliances requires a multidisciplinary approach, both in relation to the theories to apply, as well as in the type of data needed. By Prof. Rajneesh Narula et al.
‘Combatting corruption in higher education in Ukraine’ explores the dominant forms of corruption in Ukrainian public universities and proposes ways to combat corruption at the HEI level. The paper identifies three of the most common corruption schemes: entrance examinations, grade attainment throughout university education, as well as administrative corruption and closes with a set of policy recommendations. By PhD fellow Ortrun Merkle.
‘Talent on the move. Essays on human capital, graduate mobility and economic development’ aims to broaden the understanding of how human capital and graduates’ geographical mobility affects their individual careers as well as the firms, scientific systems, and countries in which they work. This dissertation indicates that the potential benefits that graduate mobility can bring are substantial (even if sometimes not wholly realised) and confirms the importance of maintaining a multi-level perspective in future research. By Dr. Simone Sasso.
‘Innovations and firm performance in sub-Saharan Africa: empirical analyses‘ primarily focuses on the empirical analyses of innovation activities of firms in sub-Saharan Africa, with specific emphasis on the innovation process, the market performance of new products and the labour market impact of new products. The novelty of the thesis comes from the duality perspective where we depart from mainstream views of development economics by considering innovations in both formal and informal firms. Results suggest that firm product innovations offer unique opportunities to resolve key socio-economic challenges, such as employment creation and competitiveness, Africa faces today. By Dr. Elvis Avenyo.
‘Too scared to achieve: The relation between neuroticism, conscientiousness and socioeconomic outcomes ‘ explores how differences in expectations and the individual problem-solving ability may be an important channel for the observed relations between personality and socioeconomic outcomes. The results of this dissertation suggest that both low emotionally stable and low conscientious individuals have a higher risk to be trapped in a disadvantageous circle of negative expectations and experiences throughout life. Interventions already in school might reduce this risk. By Dr. Caroline Wehner
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.